[2014] The CtC Tournament for HC and SC players (untwinked, single pass) [by HC Gunther]

Mar 14, 2020
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DISCLAIMER: Migration finished :)

This tournament has already ended. It was originally started by HC Gunther on Feb 28, 2014. The last post was made Oct 6, 2014.
(link to original thread on diabloii.net)

Summary
This is an untwinked, single-pass tournament where your gear will have the "Chance To Cast" attribute. You can play either Hardcore or not. You "win" when you defeat Baal in Hell.

Equipment Rules
1. Your character must be untwinked (no twinking of items, you must start with nothing).
2. Initially, you can equip any white, grey or blue item you want
3. Once you acquire an item through any means that has a "Chance To Cast" (CtC) attribute, you must try to equip it into either an empty slot or in place of an item that doesn't have a CtC attribute (See the Exceptions/Clarifications below). For this tourney, "Hit Causes Monster To Flee" and "Reanimate As: Returned" are considered CtC attributes
4. Once a CtC item is in a slot, only CtC items can go in that slot (See the Exceptions/Clarifications below)
5. Slots are Helm, Amulet, Weapon, Armor, Shield/Off-hand Weapon, Switch Weapon, Switch Shield/Off-hand Weapon, Gloves, Left Ring, Belt, Right Ring, Boots, Hireling Helm, Hireling Weapon, Hireling Armor, Hireling Shield
6. Rune words can be used, but only if they provide a CtC affix. See Rune word list below
7. Quest items (e.g. Khalim’s Will) may be equipped temporarily only when necessary to complete quests

Exceptions/Clarifications
A. For armor and helms, you and your hireling can always equip a grey armor/helm socketed with topazes (or nothing). If you have found a CtC item for those slots in the past, then only CtC items or a grey item socketed with topazes (or nothing) can go in that slot
B. Items modified by Charsi, Larzuk and Anya as a quest reward can always be equipped. Rings that you get from Akara and Ormus for completing a quest can always be equipped. Once you unequip such items, you must equip a CtC item in that slot if you already have found a CtC item for that slot
C. You never have to "force" a weapon into the hireling slot, disarming the hireling. If you find a third CtC weapon (or fifth for Barbarians) and none of them can be equipped by a hireling that you can hire, your current hireling can continue with his/her current weapon
D. OTOH, if one of your first three (or five for Barbarians) weapons you find can be equipped by a hireling that you can hire, then your hireling must equip a CtC weapon. For example, if you are using an Desert Mercenary with a non-CtC weapon when you find as your third CtC weapon a bow with a CtC affix, you must change to a Rogue Scout or go without a weapon. If in Act I you find a CtC Bardiche and two other CtC weapons but no CtC bows, that means your Desert Rogue can equip whatever weapon you want in Act I, but when you reach Act II you must hire an Desert Mercenary and have him equip a CtC weapon or have your hireling go with a weapon
E. If you have to choose between equipping a CtC shield and a CtC two-handed weapon, you may choose which one you want to equip
F. You may equip a set item that doesn't have a CtC attribute either if (1) you have used Larzuk or Anya's reward to modify it or (2) equipping the item gives you a bonus CtC attribute
G. If you see a CtC item in the trade window of a merchant, you don't have to buy it

Rune Words
These are the useable rune words by clvl:
Zephyr - Ort (9) + Eth (5), Missile Weapons, Clvl 21
Myth - Hel (15) + Amn (11) + Nef (4), Armor, Clvl 25
Peace - Shael (13) + Thul (10) + Amn (11), Armor, Clvl 29
White - Dol (14) + Io (16), Wands, Clvl 35
Obedience - Hel (15) + Ko (18) + Thul (10) + Eth (5) + Fal (19), Polearms, Clvl 41
Treachery - Shael (13) + Thul (10) + Lem (20), Armor, Clvl 43
Voice of Reason - Lem (20) + Ko (18) + El (1) + Eld (2), Maces & Swords, Clvl 43
Lawbringer - Amn (11) + Lem (20) + Ko (18), Hammers, Scepters & Swords, Clvl 43
Passion - Dol (14) + Ort (9) + Eld (2) + Lem (20), Any weapon, Clvl 43
Enlightenment - Pul (21) + Ral (8) + Sol (12), Armor, Clvl 45
Crescent Moon - Shael (13) + Um (22) + Tir (3), Axes, Polearms & Swords, Clvl 47
Gloom - Fal (19)+ Um (22) + Pul (21), Armor, Clvl 47
Bone - Sol (12) + Um (22) + Um (22), Armor, Clvl 47
Rain - Ort (9) + Mal (23) + Ith (6), Armor, Clvl 49
Venom - Tal (7) + Dol (14) + Mal (23), All Weapons, Clvl 49
Delirium - Lem (20) + Ist (24) + Io (16), Headgear (all types), Clvl 51
Rift - Hel (15) + Ko (18) + Lem (20) + Gul (25), Polearms & Scepters, Clvl 53
Principle - Ral (8) + Gul (25) + Eld (2), Armor, Clvl 55
Death - Hel (15) + El (1) + Vex (26) + Ort (9) + Gul (25), Swords & Axes, Clvl 55
Chaos - Fal (19) + Ohm (27) + Um (22), Claws, Clvl 57
Exile - Vex (26) + Ohm (27) + Ist (24) + Dol (14), Shields, Clvl 57
Oath - Shael (13) + Pul (21) + Mal (23) + Lum (17), Axes, Maces & Swords, Clvl 59
Fortitude - El (1) + Sol (12) + Dol (14) + Lo (28), Weapons & Armor, Clvl 59
Grief - Eth (5) + Tir (3) + Lo (28) + Mal (23) + Ral (8), Swords & Axes, Clvl 59
Wind - Sur (29) + El (1), Melee Weapons, Clvl 61
Dragon - Sur (29) + Lo (28) + Sol (12), Armor, Shields, Clvl 61
Wrath - Pul (21) + Lum (17) + Ber (30) + Mal (23), Missile Weapons, Clvl 63
Infinity - Ber (30) + Mal (23) + Ber (30) + Ist (24), Polearms, Clvl 63
Ice - Amn (11) + Shael (13) + Jah (31) + Lo (28), Missile Weapons, Clvl 65
Dream - Io (16) + Jah (31) + Pul (21), Headgear, Shields, Clvl 65
Brand - Jah (31) + Lo (28) + Mal (23) + Gul (25), Missile Weapons, Clvl 65
Phoenix - Vex (26) + Vex (26) + Lo (28) + Jah (31), Weapons & Shields, Clvl 65
Destruction - Vex (26) + Lo (28) + Ber (30) + Jah (31) + Ko (18), Polearms & Swords, Clvl 65
Last Wish - Jah (31) + Mal (23) + Jah (31) + Sur (29) + Jah (31) + Ber (30), Axes, Hammers & Swords, Clvl 65
Doom - Hel (15) + Ohm (27) + Um (22) + Lo (28) + Cham (32), Axes, Hammers & Polearms, Clvl 67
Hand of Justice - Sur (29) + Cham (32) + Amn (11) + Lo (28), All Weapons, Clvl 67
Pride - Cham (32) + Sur (29) + Io (16) + Lo (28), Polearms, Clvl 67
Breath of the Dying - Vex (26) + Hel (15) + El (1) + Eld (2) + Zod (33) + Eth (5), All Weapons, Clvl 69

Characters & Gameplay
  • Players can use versions from 1.10+
  • Players can use any character class, any build, and assign stat and skill points as desired.
  • Re-specing is allowed if you wish to use it.
  • Any /players setting is allowed, and may be changed at will.
  • Any merc may be used.
  • Single pass only (no re running of act bosses and areas).
  • You may return to previous acts and difficulties, however you may not leave town (you may retrieve Wirts Leg for Cow level, please avoid killing if possible and no picking up loot).
  • Atma/GoMule may be used as an extended stash.
  • All Quests must be completed before you go to the next difficulty. If you don't complete a quest, it is lost.

Signup + Updates
This tournament starts now. Players may sign up at any time.
The tournament will run until people stop playing. Please sign up using the table below. Please refrain from posting the table if it has been recently posted as it uses up too much space. Just post your information at the bottom of your post. Like this:

Character name, build, act, difficulty, area level, M/R/S/U/C/RW CtC's ?/?/?/?/?/?

The last bit is the number of CtC items you have equipped including the hireling and their type (Magic, Rare, Set, Unique, Crafted, Rune Word). You don't have to fill out the last bit, but it would be nice.

Code:
Name          Character    Class       HC? Diff.   Area               Level  M/R/S/U/C/RW
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HC Gunther    Zounds       Paladin     SC  Normal  Rogue Camp             1  0/0/0/0/0/0
 
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Hmmm, initially I wanted to play a Paladin, but it seems you've got the same idea, HC Gunter: HS/HF Paladin probably with Zeal? Seems like the ideal choice, esp. if you want to apply CtC skills as fast as possible while still dealing good damage with your skills. Plus, most items (RWs, Crafting) with CtC are Clubs/Maces, so Paladin is another good choice (Crafted Scepters etc).

Now I'm torn between Barbarian (Go, Safety items Barb, go! 50% CtC Level 4 Frost Nova when struck!), probably Frenzy or Double Swing, and Amazon (some weird Tankazon/Immolation hybrid with Zephyr and gambling lots of Short Battle Bows in NM hoping for that WWS).

Ah, what the heck...a Barb it will be! I will probably use the respec, which btw I'm loving for this tournament, because you never know with what kind of weapons you will end up, but will start to build him like a Frenzybarb.

Entering

Flashy, the Barbarian, Frenzy Barb, level 1, Act I Normal, Rogue Encampment, 0 CtC items equipped
Code:
Name          Character    Class       HC? Diff.   Area               Level  M/R/S/U/C/RW
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HC Gunther    Zounds       Paladin     SC  Normal  Rogue Camp             1  0/0/0/0/0/0
deepfriedpizz Chantix      Sorceress   HC  Normal  Rogue Camp             1  0/0/0/0/0/0
Grisu         Flashy       Barbarian   HC  Normal  Rogue Camp             1  0/0/0/0/0/0
 
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Grisu said:
Hmmm, initially I wanted to play a Paladin, but it seems you've got the same idea, HC Gunter: HS/HF Paladin probably with Zeal? Seems like the ideal choice, esp. if you want to apply CtC skills as fast as possible while still dealing good damage with your skills. Plus, most items (RWs, Crafting) with CtC are Clubs/Maces, so Paladin is another good choice (Crafted Scepters etc).
Actually, I am going to go with an Avenger (Vengeance/Conviction). The CtC Rune Words I am shooting for look to have a lot of elemental damage, so I thought Conviction would be a good choice. If you want to play a Paladin, I can re-start with a Phoenix Striker as I gave that a long, long look before deciding to go with the Avenger.
 
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HC Gunther said:
Actually, I am going to go with an Avenger (Vengeance/Conviction). The CtC Rune Words I am shooting for look to have a lot of elemental damage, so I thought Conviction would be a good choice. If you want to play a Paladin, I can re-start with a Phoenix Striker as I gave that a long, long look before deciding to go with the Avenger.
Damn, that was what I was doing!
Anybody got any ideas?
 
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HC Gunther said:
Actually, I am going to go with an Avenger (Vengeance/Conviction). The CtC Rune Words I am shooting for look to have a lot of elemental damage, so I thought Conviction would be a good choice. If you want to play a Paladin, I can re-start with a Phoenix Striker as I gave that a long, long look before deciding to go with the Avenger.
Nono, that's perfectly fine! I could still do a Paladin, but I'll stick with the Barb for now and see how far I can get - he'll be much safer anyways :)
Kitteh said:
Damn, that was what I was doing!
Anybody got any ideas?
See above:
- Paladin with Auras, who can go ranged (Zephyr) or into melee with Zeal for a lot of CtC triggers.
- Amazon with Immolation and/or Freezing arrow (Zephyr), maybe melee hybrid, maybe using respecs if you get your hands on good Javelin/Spear classe weapons.
- KickSin (never played one, not sure how viable she'll be)
- Fury Werewolf - if you get really lucky, there are lots of (high-end and therefore rare) weapons with Druid skills to synergise with hard skill points.
- Commandomancer, trying to get your hands on Oath RW for the CtC Bone Spear (invest in synergies!).
- Mastery Sorceress, untwinked probably only viable with Enchant.
 
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Kitteh said:
Damn, that was what I was doing!
Anybody got any ideas?
I guess as host, I should have waited on selecting a character. I have barely started Zounds so if anyone wants to do an Avenger, I will delete him and then pick something later that no one else has picked.

Some ideas (warning: they may suck):
* A Fendazon with a Ctc on striking weapon wearing Peace
* A Phoenix Striker
* A Bonemancer wielding a White wand
* A two-handed Barb wielding Hit Power mauls
* A double-swing Barb wielding a Crescent Moon in one hand and a Voice of Reason (CBF) in the other
* Any type of Sorceress with Enlightment
* Nothing special for Druid comes to mind
* A Fanatic Zealer with Crescent Moon would have Chain Lightning and Static Field constantly popping off
 
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If you see an item [...] you DON'T have to buy it.

I should learn to read the rules more carefully, I came to dread coming to camp. Well, I know better now.

Shaetemmu - Fishymancer - SC - Normal - Dark Wood - clvl 15 - 7 CtC items equipped, 2 rare, 5 magic
Visala - lvl 12 Cold Rogue - 2 CtC items equiped, 1 3 chipped topazes Ring Mail.
First three quests completed, single pass, no reruns, full clears, players 8. I was getting really tired, but luckily I found the WP in the Dark Wood was next to the Black Marsh, so I rescued Cain and called it a day.
I thought I had to buy every single CtC item I saw, so my rogue is blasting her way with an awesome Screaming Short Bow of Readiness, while I'm wearing a quilted armor and cap with CtC Frost Nova, buckler, heavy boots, sash, and a rare ring (7 Poison Res the only thing worth mentioning) all with CtC Charged Bolt. I found a Rare Wand in the Den (IIRC) with CtC Amp Damage (...), +1 to Clay Golem, 15 Poison damage, and self repair, which transformed me into a sort of Meleemancer for now.
Going smooth so far, as expected, and I think that Shaetemmu has been lucky with his finds so far. One weird thing is, although I was shopping for wands every time I went to town, I wasn't able to find a better wand with CtC. Only "crappy" ones with +3 skellies and skeleton mastery, who needs them?
That's it from me, thanks for the tournament and for your patience, have a nice day, everybody!
 
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gorgeousroadkill said:
If you see an item [...] you DON'T have to buy it.

I should learn to read the rules more carefully, I came to dread coming to camp. Well, I know better now.

Shaetemmu - Fishymancer - SC - Normal - Dark Wood - clvl 15 - 7 CtC items equipped, 2 rare, 5 magic
Visala - lvl 12 Cold Rogue - 2 CtC items equiped, 1 3 chipped topazes Ring Mail.
:
I thought I had to buy every single CtC item I saw, so my rogue is blasting her way with an awesome Screaming Short Bow of Readiness, while I'm wearing a quilted armor and cap with CtC Frost Nova, buckler, heavy boots, sash, and a rare ring (7 Poison Res the only thing worth mentioning) all with CtC Charged Bolt.
Also, you and your hireling can always wear a grey helm and armor that are socketed with topazes. You are going to need good MF to get the money to gamble some rare gloves and boots with a CtC attribute and something else that is actually useful.

gorgeousroadkill said:
One weird thing is, although I was shopping for wands every time I went to town, I wasn't able to find a better wand with CtC. Only "crappy" ones with +3 skellies and skeleton mastery, who needs them?
Ouch!
 
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HC Gunther said:
Also, you and your hireling can always wear a grey helm and armor that are socketed with topazes.
Well, the rules clearly state that once a CtC item is equipped, there's no going back to grey items. It's OK, a Fishymancer can do fairly well regardless of equipment, and I am selling everything of worth, money is steadily piling up (except for the gold I "had" to spend on crappy CtC items from Charsi and Gheed...). My rogue still has 27MF from her ring mail, so it'll have to do for the moment.
Anyway, glad to see that BotD has CtC, can't wait to find that Zod!

Have fun everyone!
 
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gorgeousroadkill said:
Well, the rules clearly state that once a CtC item is equipped, there's no going back to grey items
Once a slot has a CtC item, it must always have a CtC item with some exceptions. The exceptions are:
* You and your hireling can always equip grey helm and armor socketed with Topazes
* You can always equip the ring you get from Akara and Ormus for completing a quest
* You can always equip an item modified by Charsi, Larzuk or Anya

As you are the first to make progress in the tourney, I just want to be clear about the rules for everyone else who follows you.

Once you get the cube, you can re-roll a magic head by putting it in the cube with a spiked club and two skulls (any quality). You will get a new prefix and/or suffix and you will get new +oskills.
 
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@HC Gunther - thanks. Played a bit more tonight and Shaetemmu has reached the Outer Cloister WP, not before shaking his fist at the dead body of the Countess, laying beside an Eld rune. Meh. Bought another Cold Rogue, Maeko, closer to Shaetemmu's level. Nothing else to report, I hope I'll find some time to play tomorrow and set a date with Andy. Two odd things, before I go: plenty of shrines, but not a single Gem Shrine, can't remember to have ever come this far without seeing one. And still no decent CtC wand from Akara.
 
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I am close to finishing "A Guide to Untwinked, Single-Pass Play" and below is what I have for Act I. I hope it is of value to some of you.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
After a number of years of not playing, I have picked D2 back up. I wrote a A Guide to Untwinked, single-pass HC play five years ago that pulled heavily from jiansonz's Guide to Untwinked, Single-pass, early game Magic Finding . When I got back into D2, I decided to update it to reflect my current experiences and to present it in an more user-friendly fashion.

The layout of this is I will present by level what I plan to do to get through Normal. I am not an expert. In fact, I much closer to a newbie. However, I pulled together a bunch of advice spread all over the SPF forums to make this and have followed it successfully.

Difficult Level
Through Normal, I play at /p8 with the exception of the Countess and act bosses. I may drop to to /p5 or /p7 for the act bosses.

Character Level at end of each Act
Some of the planning assumes that the character is at a certain location at a certain level. There can be slight variation on the character level (clvl), but it isn't much.

Estimated clvl when finishing each act:
Act 1: 20
Act 2: 28
Act 3: 32
Act 4: 35
Act 5: TBD

Levels 1-6
I put all of my attribute points initially into Strength until it reaches 36. Once I hit that, it depends on the build but I will frequently bump my Strength to 40 and buy a Bardiche from Charsi. Regardless, when I stop putting points into Strength, I put them into Vitality. Once I hit level 6, I start "power shopping" - repeatedly popping out of town briefly to restock the NPC's inventories so that I can buy the exact item I want. I want to buy a 3 socket Ring Mail from Charsi and a 2 socket Helm from Gheed.

When I find my first chipped topaz, I put it in my stash. If I come across a Gem Shrine, I Town Portal (TP) back to town, put all of my gems into my stash and take out the topaz, then go back to the Gem Shrine and touch it to upgrade the topaz. I keep upgrading it until it is a Perfect Topaz. I will use my Perfect Topazes in Act 5.

The second and subsequent topaz chippies I put into the sockets in my armor and helm to increase my MF. Once they are full and I find another topaz chippie, it will go into the sockets of my Rogue. I will discuss that later.

For the non-topax chipped gems, I may use some of them in socketed weapons to increase their damage (mainly emeralds) and the rest I keep and mule off for later.

I save all of my Strangling Gas Potions for Blood Raven. When fighting her, I throw the potion, run around while she turns green and then when she is about to return to normal color, throw again. Repeat lots of times. When she is almost out of life, sometimes I will charge here and give her the coup de grace. The Strangling Gas Potions also help keep down her number of minions.

If I find a jewel, I mule it off for later. Jewels are used in crafting (which is discussed much later).

Level 7-11
At level 7, I buy a Belt from Charsi, which gives me 3 rows for potions. I keep putting attribute points into Vitality.

Once I defeat Blood Raven, I buy a 3 socket Ring Mail from Charsi and a 2 socket Helm and a 3 socket Long Bow from Gheed. I put all of the emerald chippies I have in the Long Bow then give it to my Rogue.

Level 12
Time to start gambling to improve my MF. I visit Gheed and select Gamble repeatedly to buy boots and gloves in order to get "of Chance" items (5-15% MF). If I am lucky, I will get a rare (yellow) item with MF and other mods. If I get boots or gloves with 5-9% MF, I gamble for the slot that doesn't haven't MF and then when I do have MF on both slots, I continue gambling until my MF is at least 10 for both boots and gloves.

Wands with Dim Vision charges and staffs with Frost Nova charges are now usuable. They can be bought from Akara with a little power shopping. I found Dim Vision charges invaluable for builds that don't have any crowd control abilities. I typically don't need them at this point, but they become more and more useful the further I get past the Outer Cloister.

If I am playing a melee build, I usually now start putting points into Dexterity. Once I reach Act II, I want to have 75% blocking. In Act II, Drognan sells Bone Shields of Deflecting. Assuming I am level 20 when I arrive, I want the following Dex points to have 75% blocking with that shield:
Paladin - 58 Dex, 2.1 dex points per level there after
Amazon/Assassin/Barbarian - 62 Dex, 2.3 points per level there after
Druid/Necromancer/Sorceress - 65 Dex, 2.5 points per level there after

At level 12, I typically start seeing necromancer heads drop. I keep all of the magic ones (name in blue writing) that don't sell for much (say less than 100) for use later once I get the cube.

Level 13-14
At some point, I am going to find a topaz chippie when the slots on my armor and helm are full and I already have a topaz for Gem Shrines. At that point, the topaz chippie goes into my Rogue's armor/helm. Once I do that, I let my Rogue kill everything. I only get the Rogue's MF when she kills something.

Also, I keep all of the Health potions I find for my final battle with Andariel.

Level 15-16
I typically fight the Countess at one of these levels. When I get to Level 5, I clear the two rooms with money, then switch to /p2 before I go nearer to where the countess resides. This is to increase her rune drops. After I clear the level, I switch back to /p8. Other players don't like changing player level and clear the whole level on /p2. I just keep the runes for now and worry about using them later.

At level 15, I start planning for fighting Andariel and the better shopping options in Lut Gholein. I already discussed Dexterity goals for Lut Gholein. For Andariel, the best melee weapons are a Pike (38.5 average damage, requires 60 Str and 45 Dex, speed 20) and a Maul (36.5 avg, requires 69 Str, speed 10). Other good choices are a Poleaxe (28.5 avg, requires 62 Str, speed 10), a Battle Axe (22 avg, requires 54 Str, speed 10), a Claymore (21.5 avg, requires 47 Str, speed 10), a Flail (12.5 avg, requires 41 Str and 35 Dex, speed -10) and a Morning Star (11.5 avg, requires 36 Str, speed 10).

I consider weapon speed for my class when deciding on a weapon. Here is a table that I got from here that lists how many frames an attack with a base weapon speed of 0 and no IAS takes for the different character classes and mercs:
Code:
                     Act 1 Rogue Act 2 Guard Act 5 Barbarian Amazon Assassin
Dagger                                                         12      14
1h-Sword                                             16        13      14
1h-Axe, Club, Mace                                             13      14
Claw                                                                   13.5
Scepter, Wand                                                  13      14
2h-Axe, Hammer                                                 17      18
2h-Sword                                                       17      22
Polearm                               8                        17      18
Spear                                 8                        15      22
Staff                                                          17      18
Bow                      15                                    13      15
Crossbow                                                       19      20
Throwing Weapons                                               15      14

                                     Druid Druid
                     Barbarian Druid Bear  Wolf  Necromancer Paladin Sorceress
Dagger                  13       20   22    22       18        16       16
1h-Sword                13       20   22    22       18        14       17
1h-Axe, Club, Mace      13       20   22    22       18        14       17
Orb                                                                     17
Scepter, Wand           13       20   22    22       18        14       17
2h-Axe, Hammer          18       17   20    20       19        17       15
2h-Sword                17       21   25    25       22        17.5     21
Polearm                 18       17   20    20       19        17       15
Spear                   18       23   27    27       23        19       20
Staff                   18       17   20    20       19        17       15
Bow                     14       15   19    19       17        15       16
Crossbow                19       19   23    24       19        19       19
Throwing Weapons        13       17   22    22       19        15       19
Note: There are no two-handed hammers with a weapon speed of 0, so I used the fpa for a two-handed axe as they are identical at a weapon speed of 10.

Level 17
I start gambling again for boots and gloves, this time for "of Fortune" (16-25% MF). If I get an item with a MF less than 20, I keep gambling until I have both boots and gloves with at least 20 MF.

Level 20
Time to kill Andariel. Before I face her, I assess if I need a better weapon. Depending on the build and the weapons in hand, I may gamble for an Andy killer.

When I fight Andariel, I have the first column in my belt purples and the next two or three columns Health potions. If I am playing a caster, I will put blues in the last column. I carry a couple of Town Portal (TP) scrolls and assign that to a hot key so I can pop back to town if I need to. I and my rogue drink antidote potions before the battle to boost our poison resistance for 30 seconds (and drinking mulitple potions will extend the time). Andariel has a -50% resistance to fire (as opposed to 50% resistance to cold and lightning), so I try to toast her when I can. As soon as I see Andariel, I cast a TP so I can get to safety quickly if the battle goes badly.

A note on casting Town Portals (TP) - cast them a few steps a way from the combat. Once I had a hardcore fire summoner Druid who was rocking through Normal. He was fighting the Infector of Souls and his minions as the final step before fighting Diablo. I had my merc and my summons between me and the Venom Lords. I had taken some damage, but felt pretty safe. I decided to pop back to town to prepare for fighting Diablo. I cast the TP when I was close to the Venom Lords, healed, prepared and headed back. When I came back, I was between the Venom Lords and my allies. The Venom Lords quickly surrounded me and killed me. If I had cast the TP a few setps away, when I came back I would have had a few moments to move behind my merc and summons before the Venom Lords could reach me.

Crushing Blow and act bosses
Let's say a Rixot's Keen has dropped for me before I face Anadriel. Rixot's Keen has a 25% chance of Crushing Blow. Should I use it instead of a weapon with higher damage? Whenever a Crushing Blow in melee happens against an act boss like Andariel, the act boss loses 1/8 of his/her/its current life (1/16 for ranged) and then the weapon damage is applied. For Andariel (who starts with 1024 life in /p1 Normal), a Crushing Blow on the first swing will take 128 life off before the weapon damage is determined. Multiplying the 128 by the 25% chance of it happening and the expected damage boost of Crushing Blow for Rixot's Keen is 32 life at most. On /p8, Andariel's life goes up 450% to 4608. The amount of damage Crushing Blow does is 1/8 divided by the life increase for the player setting (450% for /p8), so at most a Crushing Blow attack will do 128 additional damage to Andariel regardless of player setting. Initially, a Rixot's Keen will do more expected damage (11.5+32 for Crushing Blow) than say a Giant Sword (18.5 base damage), but the advantage will go away as Andariel takes damage.

Static Field and act bosses
Static Field is the best way to take life off of an act boss. It takes 25% off each cast (twice Crushing Blow) and I can cast it many times quickly. Unlike Crushing Blow, the percentage doesn't change with player setting. Like Crushing Blow, it is most effective when an act boss has full life. I switch to something else once the act boss' life has dropped significantly.
 
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