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A Blessed Journey: Untwinked Paladin Reaches 99

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
419
284
63
Originally posted November 13, 2018

Phaedrus was my third entrant in @Kitteh’s relaunch of the untwinked 99er challenge. He now joins Mercy (trapper assassin) and Hiatus (Blizz sorc 1-98 and lightning sorc 98-99) in the Table of Heroes.
99.jpg
Phaedrus started in November 2016 with plans for an untwinked playthrough as a Holy Fire/Holy Shock hybrid and stopped after taking down Normal Andariel. Around New Years, I was looking for a break from the XP runs for the other two 99ers (Baal for Mercy and CS for Hiatus), remembered this guy, and decided to approach him like a future 99er.

We’ll open with a vid of Ancients + last Diablo run to ping 99, followed by reflections on progress, run down of finds, and final stats and gear, and then some concluding thoughts and thanks. (Don't mind sloppy typing at the end--adding Ancients to the mix threw off a routine of p-settings that had been honed over 1000s of prior runs :oops:)

Progress
As summarized in this post, Phaedrus blitzed to level 86 in about two weeks into January 2017, doing the rest of Normal and Nightmare at p1 (respect to hammerdin occurred at Normal Diablo) and having minimal gear. Being undergeared led to some struggles, but nothing too bad. He took a short leveling break at Pit to 76 and then Eldritch/Shenk to 84, with some LK runs mixed in, yielding the first Sur and 2 Lion Branded skillers.

I mostly focused on Mercy at that point, but Phaedrus got some LK and RoF runs in, finally netting a 35 FCR spirit on the 18th try in April 2017. When Mercy hit 99 in May 2017, Hiatus was approaching 97 and Phaedrus was level 90.

Phaedrus then focused mostly on LK, with some Meph and RoF mixed in. Of note, he got Griffon’s from the Pit (which Hiatus would have appreciated) and a Cham from RoF (when a Jah or Ber would have been much preferred toward his Enigma).

But, at Level 93, he eventually finished that game-changing runeword from LK in late July 2017, with an extra Sur that quickly found a partner to allow merc to have CoH. Key stretch of LK runs (with 4 Surs) is summarized in this post. The estimate was ~4075 LK runs to make that happen. He then transitioned to CS full-time, doing Gripphon runs (Vizier and Infector seals only) up to 97, and then seals/Diablo for 97-99. He made it level 94 within the first week or so, and then was parked as Hiatus made her final push to 98 and then to 99.

As explained in this post, he got some runs here and there for a break from Hiatus and then more frequently toward the end of Hiatus’ push for 98-99, and quickly hit 95 after Hiatus pinged 99 in December 2017. I started the necro around this time because I missed having two characters on the tables. Along with the Amazon entered later, Phaedrus and Pestilence the necro have been the main focus of my gaming time since then.

Phaedrus was still missing Shako and Arachnid’s, which he picked up in the next half-level to 95.5. He hit 96 in late January, finally upgraded his +1 BO Call to Arms at the midway point through level 96 before hitting 97 in early March. A quarter of the way into level 97, he picked up a major drop (Cranium Basher) that brings me to grail -3 overall.

He didn't make much/any progress during Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2018 RFL. He then pushed to 97.5 before the start of RFL round 3, in the hopes of finishing the level during that three-week window, with some major upgrades of cubing a Ber for the Shako and a +6 BO CtA reroll (fifth attempt). The RFL set plus a few hours saw him hit 98, with a summary of 97-98 and a vid embedded in this post.

The pre-MFO tournament and then MFO led to breaks from Phaedrus—with Pestilence reaching 96.5 and Quinta the Amazon hitting 93.5. But Phaedrus made it through the first quarter level in early September before we left for vacation the rest of the month.

When we got back, I set a goal of 20M/week, which would have seen him finish by late November, and we exceeded the goal several times allowing him to finish up two weeks earlier. Updates of his progress are here (98.4), here (98.5), here (98.75), and here (99). Just because it was cool, here is one drop from this stretch:
98 (Zod).jpg

Finds
As noted in some of my posts, CS/Diablo runs are good for runes due to the animation of popping the last seal, and hammerdins have nice area of effect to boot. Thousands of Diablo kills also contributes nicely to eth grail. His rune haul was quite solid, and will allow me to complete the runeword grail once I organize the bases.

The key runewords he made and total remaining high runes is below:
Code:
Enigma
CoH eth
CtA x5
Delirium
HoTo x2
Ber’ed Shako

Mal – 7
Ist – 4
Gul – 7
Vex – 13
Ohm – 3
Lo – 3
Sur – 5
Ber – 2
Jah – 2
Cham – 2
Zod – 1
He also has ~2 Ists worth of Ko-Um runes when cubed up. Phaedrus didn’t pick up Normal and Exception items unless they contributed to eth grail or were high-variable items (e.g., War Traveler, Vamp Gaze). Still, he surpassed 400 items found (401), with quite a bit of progress on the eth grail front.

As with Mercy and Hiatus, there are too many nice items to summarize, so I will just list a couple favorites: Cranium Basher (overall grailer) and Entrapping GC of Vita (40). He also picked up lots of skillers that I’ll work through, but I don’t think many had secondary mods that would improve my overall stash. A few were “of life” or “of sustenance” though.

Reflections and Musings
A lot was covered above, but a few other thoughts on his journey:

-- I won’t repeat the p1 progression, as the main source of frustration was early on as he tried to pull together some decent gear to allow safe MF and LK runs.

-- That said, he could have moved faster if I’d just focused on LK once he had the basics. But I think I might have burned out if he’d done that, and the RoF chest runs were a fun break and decent leveling option.

-- He found two Lion Branded skillers in the first 100 LK runs, then no more over the next ~4000 and ~10 levels worth of XP runs. He didn’t pick up the third (and final for him) until around 98.5.

-- He had only one death after getting Enigma (during level 96). There were a couple NDEs mixed in (usually due to not seeing Conviction aura for Infector), but he was really quite safe.

-- A backpack full of skillers would make seal/Diablo runs go much faster.

-- As noted, straight p7 Diablo runs (or p1 for de Seis) was faster for 97-98, contrary to conventional wisdom about Gripphon runs being faster. My experience with him leads me to believe that would be true for any character than can take down de Seis and then Diablo relatively smoothly (i.e., not true for Blizz but likely true for many others).

Stats, Gear, and Merc
I removed readouts of the runes included in runewords to shorten things and didn’t bother including corpse recovery kit because it wasn’t used.
Code:
Name:       Phaedrus
Class:      Paladin
Experience: 3520485254
Level:      99

            Naked/Gear
Strength:   25/101
Dexterity:  148/167
Vitality:   397/421
Energy:     15/17
HP:         1427/2042
Mana:       162/454
Stamina:    559/839
Defense:    37/1578
AR:         725/859

Fire:       198/158/98
Cold:       182/142/82
Lightning:  157/117/57
Poison:     166/126/66

MF:         254       Block:      46
GF:         92
FR/W:       85
FHR:        55
IAS:        0
FCR:        125

Sacrifice: 0/0
Smite: 1/18
Holy Bolt: 1/18
Zeal: 0/0
Charge: 1/18
Vengeance: 0/0
Blessed Hammer: 20/37
Conversion: 0/0
Holy Shield: 20/37
Fist of the Heavens: 0/0

Might: 1/15
Holy Fire: 0/0
Thorns: 0/0
Blessed Aim: 20/34
Concentration: 20/34
Holy Freeze: 0/0
Holy Shock: 0/0
Sanctuary: 0/0
Fanaticism: 0/0
Conviction: 0/0

Prayer: 1/15
Resist Fire: 0/0
Defiance: 2/16
Resist Cold: 0/0
Cleansing: 1/15
Resist Lightning: 0/0
Vigor: 20/34
Meditation: 0/0
Redemption: 1/15
Salvation: 0/0
Code:
Call to Arms
War Scepter
AmnRalMalIstOhm
One Hand Damage: 35 - 59
Durability: 70 of 70
Required Level: 57
Required Strength: 55
Fingerprint: 0xae071a75
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to All Skills
+40% Increased Attack Speed
250% Enhanced Damage
+150% Damage to Undead
Adds 5 - 30 Fire Damage
7% Life stolen per hit
Prevent Monster Heal
+1 to Holy Shock (Paladin Only)
+1 to Conversion (Paladin Only)
+5 to Battle Command
+6 to Battle Orders
+4 to Battle Cry
Replenish Life +12
30% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
5 Sockets (5 used)
Socketed: Amn Rune
Socketed: Ral Rune
Socketed: Mal Rune
Socketed: Ist Rune
Socketed: Ohm Rune

Spirit
Superior Protector Shield
TalThulOrtAmn
Defense: 175
Chance to Block: 0
Durability: 44 of 44
Required Level: 34
Required Strength: 69
Fingerprint: 0x21e6848
Item Level: 82
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to All Skills
+32% Faster Cast Rate
+55% Faster Hit Recovery
+14% Enhanced Defense
+250 Defense vs. Missile
+22 to Vitality
+101 to Mana
Cold Resist +35%
All Resistances +39
Lightning Resist +35%
Poison Resist +35%
+3 Magic Absorb
Attacker Takes Damage of 14
Increase Maximum Durability 12%
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Tal Rune
Socketed: Thul Rune
Socketed: Ort Rune
Socketed: Amn Rune

Heart of the Oak
Flail
KoVexPulThul
One Hand Damage: 1 - 24
Durability: 30 of 30
Required Level: 55
Required Strength: 41
Required Dexterity: 35
Fingerprint: 0x91daca9a
Item Level: 42
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+3 to All Skills
+40% Faster Cast Rate
+75% Damage to Demons
+100 to Attack Rating against Demons
+150% Damage to Undead
Adds 3 - 14 Cold Damage Over 3 Secs (75 Frames)
7% Mana stolen per hit
+10 to Dexterity
Replenish Life +20
Increase Maximum Mana 15%
All Resistances +38
Level 4 Oak Sage (25/25 Charges)
Level 14 Raven (60/60 Charges)
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Ko Rune
Socketed: Vex Rune
Socketed: Pul Rune
Socketed: Thul Rune

Phaedrus's Spirit
Sacred Targe
TalThulOrtAmn
Defense: 140
Chance to Block: 0
Durability: 34 of 45
Required Level: 47
Required Strength: 86
Fingerprint: 0x4a10eb21
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to All Skills
+35% Faster Cast Rate
+55% Faster Hit Recovery
+250 Defense vs. Missile
+22 to Vitality
+105 to Mana
Cold Resist +35%
All Resistances +43
Lightning Resist +35%
Poison Resist +35%
+6 Magic Absorb
Attacker Takes Damage of 14
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Tal Rune
Socketed: Thul Rune
Socketed: Ort Rune
Socketed: Amn Rune

Phaedrus's Enigma
Superior Breast Plate
JahIthBer
Defense: 845
Durability: 43 of 56
Required Level: 65
Required Strength: 30
Fingerprint: 0x73794eb7
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to All Skills
+45% Faster Run/Walk
+1 to Teleport
+15% Enhanced Defense
+766 Defense
+74 to Strength (Based on Character Level)
Increase Maximum Life 5%
Damage Reduced by 8%
+14 Life after each Kill
15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
99% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (Based on Character Level)
Increase Maximum Durability 12%
3 Sockets (3 used)
Socketed: Jah Rune
Socketed: Ith Rune
Socketed: Ber Rune

Arachnid Mesh
Spiderweb Sash
Defense: 136
Durability: 9 of 12
Required Level: 80
Required Strength: 50
Fingerprint: 0xa30a6af6
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to All Skills
+20% Faster Cast Rate
Slows Target by 10%
+117% Enhanced Defense
Increase Maximum Mana 5%
Level 3 Venom (11/11 Charges)

Phaedrus's Harlequin Crest
Shako
Defense: 126
Durability: 5 of 12
Required Level: 63
Required Strength: 50
Fingerprint: 0xb62e9987
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to All Skills
All Stats +2
+148 to Life (Based on Character Level)
+148 to Mana (Based on Character Level)
Damage Reduced by 18%
50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
1 Sockets (1 used)
Socketed: Ber Rune

Ber Rune
Required Level: 63
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Weapons: 20% Chance of Crushing Blow
Armor: Damage Reduced by 8%
Shields: Damage Reduced by 8%

Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Ring
Required Level: 58
Fingerprint: 0x7e184e27
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to All Skills
4% Life stolen per hit
+49 to Life (Based on Character Level)
+50 Maximum Stamina

Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Ring
Required Level: 58
Fingerprint: 0xe3d6e356
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to All Skills
5% Life stolen per hit
+49 to Life (Based on Character Level)
+50 Maximum Stamina

Trang-Oul's Claws
Heavy Bracers
Defense: 72
Durability: 11 of 16
Required Level: 45
Required Strength: 58
Fingerprint: 0x131ab2c3
Item Level: 84
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to Curses (Necromancer only)
+20% Faster Cast Rate
+25% to Poison Skill Damage
+30 Defense
Cold Resist +30%

Stone Clasp
Amulet
Required Level: 89
Fingerprint: 0xfc4446e1
Item Level: 92
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to Paladin Skill Levels
+10% Faster Cast Rate
+7 to Dexterity
+14 to Mana
Regenerate Mana 6%
Poison Length Reduced by 25%
9% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Aldur's Advance
Battle Boots
Defense: 43
Durability: 15 of 18
Required Level: 45
Required Strength: 95
Fingerprint: 0x4d900760
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Indestructible
+40% Faster Run/Walk
+50 to Life
+180 Maximum Stamina
Heal Stamina Plus 32%
Fire Resist +50%
10% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
Set (2 items): +15 to Dexterity
Set (3 items): +15 to Dexterity
Set (4 items): +15 to Dexterity
Code:
Lion Branded Grand Charm of Craftmanship
Grand Charm
Required Level: 42
Fingerprint: 0x4226e133
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to Combat Skills (Paladin Only)
+1 to Maximum Damage

Lion Branded Grand Charm
Grand Charm
Required Level: 42
Fingerprint: 0xe7377ae6
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to Combat Skills (Paladin Only)

Jade Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0xffc92e2f
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life
Poison Resist +9%

Viridian Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x2ada174f
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+19 to Life
Poison Resist +7%

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x2e0b4cef
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Serpent's Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 40
Fingerprint: 0xc0cefc41
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life
+13 to Mana

Lion Branded Grand Charm of Life
Grand Charm
Required Level: 42
Fingerprint: 0x24bb5cde
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to Combat Skills (Paladin Only)
+13 to Life

Lizard's Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x35837c33
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life
+6 to Mana

Lizard's Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0xc665eb28
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+5 to Mana
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0xe0be1cbe
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0x8d86e386
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Steel Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 49
Fingerprint: 0xffa77658
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+31 to Attack Rating
+20 to Life

Ruby Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x2c6a45e9
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+17 to Life
Fire Resist +10%

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x2aba433f
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0xe8563667
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x8ba0e7e5
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Lizard's Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0xd689e86
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life
+1 to Mana

Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0x5bc17093
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Beryl Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0x170c29bb
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Poison Resist +4%
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0x6d133cbe
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Bronze Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0xb8a6c8c6
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+8 to Attack Rating
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Ruby Small Charm of Sustenance
Small Charm
Required Level: 32
Fingerprint: 0x277d2988
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+14 to Life
Fire Resist +11%

Ruby Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x96f8768e
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+19 to Life
Fire Resist +10%

Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x46cf6814
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+20 to Life

Russet Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x19260714
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+19 to Life
Fire Resist +6%

Lapis Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0xdef3a1b5
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Cold Resist +6%
7% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

Amber Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 39
Fingerprint: 0x6e736a49
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+18 to Life
Lightning Resist +11%

Gheed's Fortune
Grand Charm
Required Level: 62
Fingerprint: 0x8a3f515e
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
92% Extra Gold from Monsters
Reduces all Vendor Prices 11%
40% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Code:
Name:       Waheed
Race:       Desert Mercenary
Type:       Off-Nightmare
Experience: 114121228
Level:      98
Dead?:      false

            Naked/Gear
Strength:   209/260
Dexterity:  169/174
HP:         2287/2293
Defense:    1671/3707
AR:         2066/502038

Fire:       220/180/120
Cold:       227/187/127
Lightning:  227/187/127
Poison:    297/257/197

Chains of Honor
Wyrmhide
DolUmBerIst
Defense: 1723
Durability: 13 of 13
Required Level: 63
Required Strength: 74
Fingerprint: 0xb2b5bd5d
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+2 to All Skills
+200% Damage to Demons
+100% Damage to Undead
8% Life stolen per hit
+70% Enhanced Defense
+20 to Strength
Replenish Life +7
All Resistances +65
Damage Reduced by 8%
25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Ethereal
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Dol Rune
Socketed: Um Rune
Socketed: Ber Rune
Socketed: Ist Rune

Andariel's Visage
Demonhead
Defense: 313
Durability: 20 of 20
Required Level: 83
Required Strength: 102
Fingerprint: 0xba3e278b
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
15% Chance to cast level 15 Poison Nova when struck
+2 to All Skills
+20% Increased Attack Speed
29% Enhanced Damage
9% Life stolen per hit
+102% Enhanced Defense
+26 to Strength
+6 to Life
+10% to Maximum Poison Resist
Fire Resist -7%
Poison Resist +70%
Level 3 Venom (20/20 Charges)
1 Sockets (1 used)
Socketed: Havoc Scarab

Havoc Scarab
Jewel
Required Level: 37
Fingerprint: 0x723af5c
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
29% Enhanced Damage
+6 to Life
Fire Resist +23%

Insight
Great Poleaxe
RalTirTalSol
Two Hand Damage: 240 - 636
Durability: 28 of 28
Required Level: 63
Required Strength: 169
Required Dexterity: 89
Fingerprint: 0x61dd1730
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Level 16 Meditation Aura When Equipped
+35% Faster Cast Rate
235% Enhanced Damage
+9 to Minimum Damage
242% Bonus to Attack Rating
Adds 5 - 30 Fire Damage
Adds 75 Poison Damage Over 5 Secs (125 Frames)
+4 to Critical Strike
All Stats +5
+2 to Mana after each Kill
23% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Ethereal
4 Sockets (4 used)
Socketed: Ral Rune
Socketed: Tir Rune
Socketed: Tal Rune
Socketed: Sol Rune

Thank You-s
As with Mercy and Hiatus, I have to start with thanks to this forum and everyone who participated or contributed to this thread. It’s much easier to plug away with company :)

-- Special thanks go to @Pb_pal, NanoMist and @T72on1 who were in it from the beginning and have stayed active in this thread, and also have helped with feedback and encouragement throughout.

-- Of course, @Kitteh gets a special shout out for (re)starting this challenge.

-- Big thanks also to @Neksja who had the first high-level untwinked pally (and finished him earlier this year) and shared lots of great insight to the leveling approach for untwinked version of this build.

-- @ffs gets major thanks for the encouragement on pushing Phaedrus along—after Hiatus finished, I said I’d keep pushing Phaedrus along to keep his sorc company on the final stretch; then when he finished her, he said he’d keep pushing Ric until Phaedrus hit 99. I guess now I need to offer to keep pushing Pestilence until Ric is finished and then you need a third entrant! ;)

-- Major thanks also to the continued entries over the past year. There was a while in 2017 where it looked like things might be winding down, but the new characters keep things active and keep the excitement going. As I noted earlier, I doubt I’d stay engaged on the 99ers without an active community to share progress and keep things interesting, and having others on the same journey in this thread has made it much more engaging.

Finally, thanks to everyone who’s made it this far through this wall of text (only a little more left :p)!

What’s Next-es
As for what’s next, Phaedrus is going stay a Champion, but he will lose his untwinked status with a full compliment of skillers and some other charm upgrades, allowing both an MF set-up and high-power CS set-up for rune hunting. I will also sort through his stash and the charms, jewels, and eth bases in particular.

On the last point, I will also burn through his runes, which will nearly complete my runeword grail assuming I can find the right bases (the Zod will go in 3os eTomby, so the BoTD will have to wait for now).

Due to eTomby, I will likely start questing and leveling a new Druid, likely as pure feral rage until he can equip to become grief/fury and level in Pits until he can equip the eTomby and then respect for Hell quest through.

I also have work to do on the character screen and some outstanding 99er quests:
Screenshot007.jpg
Pestilence is 96.5 and Quinta is ~93.7. I hope to get them to the next level by the end of November and then take stock of where to focus. I’m thinking of focusing on Pestilence with a goal of hitting 98 by New Year’s, with LK runs for Quinta as a break along with progressing the Druid.

I also still have quite a few twinked builds on the to-do list (Druid will tick off two of them), so we’ll see whether I want to do more questing as a break from running a target over and over. I also can pick up the final character (Barb) in my Trio of Twins project—he’s been parked in NM Outer Cloister for a while now.

In closing, a final thanks to everyone who followed along and provided encouragement as Phaedrus progressed to 99. Questions and feedback are most welcome. Cheers! :D
 
Last edited:

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
419
284
63
As the final stage of the 99er journey, Phaedrus decided to spend some of his hard-earned runes :D
Runeword prep.jpg
This little spree brings me to runeword grail -3, with runes still stashed for Fury and Exile but not a good enough base to feel worth it for either. He spent the Zod on something other than BoTD, so that's the only remaining runeword where I still need the rune ingredients.

Enough chit-chat, it's time for some screenies:
Pride.jpg
Hel'ed the Great Poleaxe he had used for Insight, and he'll go with the eth Cryptic Axe Insight roll instead.
Doom.jpg
I thought that I could try this out on my Auradin to replace HoJ/Dragon, probably going with Enigma armor for better mobility in WSK runs. Too bad on the roll (although all of the variable stat rolls in this batch were bad to not-terrible).
Destruction.jpg
Auradin merc may get this for kicks, at least for a bit. Now for the one I was most excited to make:
eTomby.jpg
RJoF #1.jpg
RJoF #2.jpg
eTomby complete.jpg
:) Hiatus found the eTomby and the 2 RJoFs have been in my stash for a while, I'm pretty sure both found during my 7x7. My next twinked character will be a Druid so that this can get some use.
Last Wish.jpg
This was the second most exciting one actually. It's in a 14ED superior base that Phaedrus found. I think it is perfect for a warrior monk (kick/blade fury), so I may end up remaking mine (or un-retiring her and focus on leveling). I also think it could be powerful option for the auradin, allowing fast and powerful smite for taking down Baal or other bosses. He had to borrow 2 Jahs from my general stash to finish it.
Eternity.jpg
Meh . . . Not sure I'll ever use this one actually. He cubed the last 2 Surs he had for the Ber. This session used up all his Lo+ runes, and I could have also made Exile with his remaining stash if I had a base.

* * *

A couple other notes from sorting through his stashes. He ended up keeping 77 skillers (plus the three Lion Branded that are equipped). Also his small charm collection makes for a nice upgrade in my general stash, at least on the shimmering/secondary mod and 10/11 single element/secondary mod front. Finally, there are still four eth GPA, Cryptic Axe, and Thresher bases that will be cubed hoping for 4os for nice Insights.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted January 8, 2017

Phaedrus had meditated all day, asking for a vision to guide his way. He looked up to the horizon. He saw three legendary heroes who had attained the highest levels of skill in vanquishing the Prime Evils. And many others still on the journey, but much more skilled than he. His initial aim had been much less grand, more mundane. He had sought only to defeat the Prime Evils with the tools he found on his way. So be it. He will embark on the longer journey.


* * *

I was hesitant to add a third character to the table, but seeing a few others considering starting a second character made me feel slightly less crazy :)

I had actually started this guy a couple months ago, thinking of trying out an untwinked Holy Fire/Holy Shock zealot. He had defeated Andy, doing p8 not-quite-full clears. Around New Years, I felt like taking a small break from Mercy and Hiatus, but wasn’t excited to pick up the two tourney characters I have.

I saw this guy at the bottom of character list, and figured I’d move him forward as a possible 99er-to-be, with respec to a standard Hammerdin at some point. I figured worst case, he runs for Enigma and never makes it further than that, which would give me a second Enigma to swap among characters (Mercy isn’t giving hers up!).

So I went as quickly as possible through the first two difficulties on p1, leveling at Eldritch and Pindle. To level 40 in Normal, and then to level 65 in NM. NM HF was a Shael.

The p1 leveling approach was something I’d never tried before, and is interesting. Drops were minimal, so MF was pretty low (Normal Baal had dropped a Nagel -- yes, Phaedrus was using a random wand for FCR -- and he’d gotten a Goldwrap in NM, but no other good MF gear). And even in NM resists were challenging. So the transition to Hell was tough, and Phaedrus bounced back and forth from NM to Hell questing through A1 between 65 and 70.

His first exceptional unique was Darksight Helm, which was a pretty good find and his earliest source of CBF. He had made a spirit sword and stealth early on. But he couldn’t find either a 2os pally shield or 4os pally shield, finally settling on a 2os Heater found early in A1 H to make rhyme :rolleyes:

He also had failed to find a 4os polearm, except for a Scythe, which really wasn’t worth it because merc was so fragile. Spire of Honor for the Merc, with his sad little 2% LL Blood craft helm, was enough of an upgrade that it warranted a screenshot. But he found a 4os flail early in NM A1, which is stashed for HoTo. Mercy and Hiatus both had some issues finding the base for that runeword, so it was nice to have it taken care of early on.

He ran Andy and Pits until level 76, finding a [email protected] crown shield that the cube made 2os to allow a slight rhyme upgrade. He eventually pressed forward to LK, and it was pretty dicey with resists ~60/40/75/40. A 4os polearm dropped A3 sewers, and it was good to get insight and higher damage from the merc. He cleared to Meph, to allow a brief visit for LK for some resists. He was level 79, and ran for 25 runes, with an Io the highest, but that allowed him to cube a Lum for Smoke, which made things much more comfortable. A few low resist charms dropped (one with FHR), but that represented an upgrade.

He ran to the HF, which was an Um, and then ran another set of 25 runes at LK. He had two skillers drop in that period, the second of which was Lion Branded, which was pretty awesome. He tackled CS, which was manageable, and then leveled at Shenk and Eldritch to 84. A [email protected] superior pally shield dropped, so he burned his Hell socket quest to allow a spirit shield (couldn’t think of where he’d spend that third socket quest, so it was worth it to finally get a spirit shield in A5 Hell :rolleyes:)

From Shenk, he got his first Elite Unique. It was Veil of Steel, which helped get the merc’s resists maxed in conjunction with an upped Boneflesh for LL (and without anything else better). The merc is still pretty fragile either way.

He returned to LK for another 50 runes during this past week, with an Ist dropping early and a Sur as rune #96. So 1/6 of the way to Enigma. As good, he got his second Combat skiller.

I spent a good bit of time today on Meph runs, Eldritch to level, and then another batch of LK. Another batch of 50 runes saw a Pul and a Gul (only a Gul away from HoTo :cool:). Then he got his first unique amulet – period – from Meph, which happened to be Mara’s. Mercy and Hiatus haven’t found one yet, so that was a surprise and helped with resists and damage (he had been wearing a 10% FCR with resists ammy because nothing better had dropped). Then back to LK, up to 225 runes found now. This batch of 75 didn’t have much on the rune front, with only Pul #2. But he found two [email protected] jewels, one with +min damage as second modifier and the other with +IAS. He also got a nice upgrade for him 10FCR ring (the other was blue with [email protected]).

* * *

Deaths: Normal Diablo was his first death to lightning hose – holy fire was not going to work, so he used the respec to Hammerdin and that was that. I was reckless in NM tombs, with a double boss pack, cursed, conviction and a champion pack mixed in . . . ran right through the door and got stuck = second death. I forgot about the FE bug at NM council, and ran right up to one of them to cast hammers for his third death. Fourth death was to double boss pack harlots trying to rescue Anya in NM. Surprisingly, his only deaths in Hell questing were to the CE/FE explosion from a conviction boss in Jail level 1 and cursed with a double boss pack of dolls in Flayer Dungeon. He’s had two deaths in LK running.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted April 16, 2017

Phaedrus finished up the 50 rune set and then completed a second, for a total of 151 runes found since returning to LK this month. He found an Um and a solid FCR ring that will come in handy for him down the road, I think.
Code:
Eagle Spiral
Ring
Required Level: 48
Fingerprint: 0xc1666bc9
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+10% Faster Cast Rate
+1 to Maximum Damage
+56 to Attack Rating
Cold Resist +16%
All Resistances +10
Damage Reduced by 1
Nothing higher than a Lum beyond that. But he had another 5 Hels, and set to rerolling. On the fourth try, after 25, 26, and 31, Phaedrus finally got 35 FCR on his spirit. I went back and checked – 18 tries before hitting it! But it’s nice to have that out of the way :D

He will continue plugging away in LK, finishing off another 100 runes to get to 500 total so far. I also realized that I forgot to post a Vex Phaedrus found in RoF back in February.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted July 30, 2017


Phaedrus got some time as a break from CS runs. He hadn’t actually completed the Nihl quests in any difficulty, so he did that, as I was planning on rerolling to LK map to get a better CS map to run at p1 in search of Diablo charms. As luck would have it, Hell Nihl dropped a charm :) So he burned through 100 or so pgems, ultimately rolling a Harpoonists with FHR that is now on a Spearazon questing through Hell.
Code:
Harpoonist's Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 42
Fingerprint: 0x480102bb
Item Level: 95
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to Javelin and Spear Skills (Amazon Only)
+12% Faster Hit Recovery
After that, he rolled LK maps, finding a decent one, and did 10 minutes here and there. In the first 25 runes, he got 2 Lems and +FRW Fungal skiller. And then #28:
LK (Ber).jpg
Well, 4 of the Surs got loaded up along with a +15% defense superior breast plate, and viola:
Enigma Makings.jpg
Enigma.jpg
So 1628 runes found in LK, and around 4075 total LK runs and he was now able to move with purpose! He still didn’t have a Shako or Arachnid’s (yes, it’s a theme :rolleyes:), so we decided to do some Meph runs. A couple rolls later, we had 7 teleports to the stairs, and the second run dropped this (on p3):
Meph (Sur).jpg
So Sur #5 from LK had a partner, which opened up CoH for the merc. After cubing 4 eth armors, we got one with 4os, and the merc had a new outfit.

He is also now in CS, with a decent little map, running p1 with p7 Diablo kills hoping for another GC or two to burn through the ~500 pgems he has left (and he'll go through the rest of the pAmmys and Rals he has for caster ammys). But no luck so far, as he’s around 1/5 of the way to 94.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted July 23, 2017

Phaedrus went back to LK, with very nice results. The poor rune luck from the WSK tourney was more than redressed, with 4 Surs falling in quick succession. :) He’s finished another 500-rune set, for 1600 runes found in LK total so far (~4000 runs total), and is now one Sur from Enigma. Summary of the drops:

1-50: Mal #5
51-100: Ko (highest)
101-150: Vex #2, Gul #4
151-200: Sur #2, Sur #3, Mal #6
201-250: Sur #4, Pul #4, Pul #5

A total of 651 runs for that set of 250 runes found. The Surs fell as runes 156, 184, and 214, within ~150 runs of each other. A warcries skiller with +5 dexterity was best skiller, with a few plain, and two nice SCs, an Amber of Vita (11/18) and Jade of Vita (11/20). The next 250 runes:

251-300: Sur #5, Um #2
301-350: Lem (highest)
351-400: Ko x2 (highest)
401-450: Lem x2 (highest)
451-500: Lum (highest)

A total of 641 runs for this set. There were a couple ruby jewels with + damage modifiers, an Acrobatic skiller with +1 max damage, and two +20 vita plain SCs. The Sur was rune 282, so 4 Surs within about 280 runs of each other, and some other solid drops mixed in! :cool:

He also burned through 100 pAmethysts for caster ammys, with nothing much to show for it. There was a 2/15 offensive aura amulet with [email protected] resists and +19 strength, but Mara’s is better for him for now and it’s hard to see that changing. Due to cubing along the way in LK, he also has more than 600 pgems (plus another 400 flawless) in the stash for GC rolling once he gets some Diablo charms. He may take a break to do some inefficient CS runs in the hopes of getting a few of those just to mix things up.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted December 29, 2017

Champion Phaedrus and Azrael the Defiance Desert Merc, Lvl 95 (pic)
As Hiatus was making the final push to 98 and then became the primary focus over the last couple months, Phaedrus hadn’t gotten any dedicated playtime since August, when he hit 94 (and his last update).

But he did get 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there along the way. That increased in frequency as Hiatus approached 98.75 and my patience with LI Nihl rolls multiple times in a short stretch started wearing thin. I would often take little breaks when that happened, with 2-3 runs with Phaedrus a common pause before going back to Hiatus.

When Hiatus hit 98.75, I did a session of CS runs, which brought Phaedrus a little more than half way to 95. He ended up getting another tenth or so of the level before Hiatus hit 99, finishing up the level over the past week. He was averaging ~800k per run (sticking to Gripphon runs unless there was an XP shrine).

Only finds worth screenshots were a Boneflame from Diablo and the unique Champion Axe. Highest rune was a Lem, with an eth Moser’s, Gladiator’s Bane, Doombringer, and set Colossus Blade other finds of note. He got trolled when rerolling Diablo charms, seeing “Combat” before seeing “Barbarian”:
Trolling Combat Skiller.jpg
He also found a plain Expert charm earlier in the level, with a similar result of split-second excitement quickly crushed. He also found this nice little charm that will see some use:
Code:
Serpent's Small Charm of Vita
Small Charm
Required Level: 40
Fingerprint: 0xc0cefc41
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+20 to Life
+13 to Mana
Needs on the finds front are still pretty significant: Shako, 4os eth elite polearm for Insight upgrade, combat skillers (the right kind), and Arachnids (obviously . . . :rolleyes:). He’s finally crafted through all his stashed Rals, and continues picking up all flawless gems to reroll GCs and craft amulets.

He will get a bit of a break, although he may do some Meph runs here and there over the next couple weeks in the hopes of lucky drops.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted January 27, 2018

As for me, after getting two weeks off after New Years, Phaedrus was back in CS, usually for no more than 15-20 minutes a day, and with the longest session around 45 minutes. He just hit the half-way point to 96, but I’ll do a quick update due to the very nice drops.

When last we left Phaedrus, he didn’t have Shako or Arachnids and was using Griffons to hit the 125 FCR breakpoint. The first quarter level was generous with runes, starting off with an early Ist, followed by an Ohm, a Lo, and a Sur just after one-fifth of the level. An eth CV also dropped, which picked up 4os in the cube, so he finally had an eth elite Insight. The only other drop of note before the quarter level was a unique Ward.

He was crafting caster amulets as he went, rolling a 2/10 ammy right before finally finding a Shako. He went back to NM to socket it, and quickly rerolled another good map. But the loss of FCR from Griffons meant some gear reshuffling. He dropped BKWB for a second FCR ring, swapped out Mara’s for the caster ammy and was right at the 125 breakpoint. Putting a shael in the Shako allowed him to remove 4 plain FHR SCs which were offset by resist charms to make up for loss of Mara’s.

Run times were about the same with the new set up, and Ist #2 dropped shortly after. There was nothing much of note, until this am when he got an unexpected present:
CS (Arachnids).jpg
So he didn’t have to wait to level 98 like Mercy and Hiatus! :D

This allowed another gear reshuffle, going back to Mara’s, finally dropping War Trav’s (MF is no longer important), and revisiting charms.

For now, he’s going with Dwarf star for fire absorb, +life, and magic damage reduction, but he will also test out going back to BKWB. Aldur’s are in the boot slot for now, but he will also test Water Walk (no Hotspurs). Sandstrom Trek would free up the socket in the Shako, but he doesn’t have a Ber yet so that decision is down the road (he can also add 4 FHR SCs instead). He also finally dropped the two plain offensive skillers to free up more room for SC mixing-and-matching.

With the FR overstack from Aldur’s (which can be upped another 44 FR with stashed Ruby SCs/decent secondary mods), I think BKWB will end up winning out in the end. But we’ll see what happens with Water Walk.

Run times with current set up improved noticeably. His life is now over 3000 with BO active. I will have more time the rest of this weekend and next, so hopefully he makes good progress toward 96.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted February 2, 2018

Champion Phaedrus and Azrael the Defiance Desert Merc, Lvl 96 (pic)
Phaedrus got the second half of the level with little of note happening and no additional drops meriting screen shots. The only drops of note were Nat’s claw, Pelta Lunata, a +firewall Ormus with 15% fire damage, and this nice sharp charm from rerolling Diablo GCs after pinging 96:
Code:
Sharp Grand Charm of Vita
Grand Charm
Required Level: 69
Fingerprint: 0xfa860a0c
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+10 to Maximum Damage
+72 to Attack Rating
+38 to Life
I'll keep plugging away with him for 20-30 minutes here and there, sharing time with LK runs for Pestilence and trying to finish off my Auradin.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted February 27, 2018

Phaedrus is now half way to level 97. I was traveling for work all last week so no progress until I got back Sunday. We picked up 40M XP to hit a round 2.84B, which is just a smidge over half way.

The only drop of note over the last < quarter level was Ohm #2, which prompted me to ask whether I had a use for it to upgrade Phaedrus’ CtA. Um, yes:
Code:
Call to Arms
Crystal Sword
AmnRalMalIstOhm
One Hand Damage: 18 - 55
Durability: 20 of 20
Required Level: 57
Required Strength: 43
Fingerprint: 0xa916fc27
Item Level: 80
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+1 to All Skills
+40% Increased Attack Speed
267% Enhanced Damage
Adds 5 - 30 Fire Damage
7% Life stolen per hit
Prevent Monster Heal
+6 to Battle Command
+1 to Battle Orders
+2 to Battle Cry
Replenish Life +12
30% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
5 Sockets (5 used)
Socketed: Amn Rune
Socketed: Ral Rune
Socketed: Mal Rune
Socketed: Ist Rune
Socketed: Ohm Rune
So we checked the stash and found two 5os weapons that had been stored. With the first Ohm from CS, we would have two tries for an update, which was needed :( Second re-roll was better (+3 BO), which gets his life pool to nearly 3500 with BO active. But it still leaves room for improvement. All future Gul, Vex, and Ohm drops will go toward a third reroll.

On progress, he is averaging just under 10M/hr based on two timed half-hour sessions. Leaving flawless gems would speed things up quite a bit, as picking them up and then cubing for GC rerolls takes some time. But I really want at least one more skiller, so rerolls will continue until he hits 97. Then we’ll reassess and probably move to higher efficiency runs.

Pestilence also got in some more LK runs, with another 125 runes found to complete a 250-rune set. Main find was Vex #3 from a poppable, plus Pul #2 and #3. A nice upgrade early on was the set sharkskin belt for FRW.

I will chip away at the LK runs with Pestilence on and off for a bit, likely focusing more on Phaedrus to finish the level.
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted March 4, 2018

Champion Phaedrus and Azrael the Defiance Desert Merc, Lvl 97 (pic)
Phaedrus uneventfully covered the last quarter level to ping 97. I figured it would be later in the week, but I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back asleep, so CS runs it was

Finds for the last quarter level: Ist, Windforce #2 , and Mal #3 and Mal #4 (within 2 runs of each other). He also found Um #4 and Eaglehorn. Adding to the first three updates (here, here and here), the runes (Mal+) netted for level 96-97 were:
Code:
Mal x4
Ist
Ohm x2
Cham
I am going to reroll the CS map for a 4-shrine map and test out Gripphon runs, 3-seal runs, and p8/p7 runs. Too bad, because I liked the boss density on this one, but it has only one shrine.

Looking at the numbers, I think p8/p7 may be the best bet if I can get XP shrines regularly. The seal bosses drop off pretty seriously for level 97. Diablo is more than Infector and Vizier (with de Seis added in, it’s ~20k more per run from Diablo/de Seis compared to the other two). So as long as it’s no more than twice as long it should net out more efficient, especially with XP shrines. But that’s why we test!

The other question is what to do with the merc. I still have defiance but was thinking about a Might merc to help take down de Seis a little faster when tele-stomping. At this point, I think I’ll just stick with Azrael though.

The other-other question is whether to stop picking up gems. My inclination is yes, it’s as likely to get the next skiller from drops (rerolling only increases the odds slightly) and the godly pally caster amulet is so very unlikely. :rolleyes: Time to focus on speed, methinks!

Good luck to all the runners!
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted April 22, 2018

Phaedrus is a quarter of the way to 98, with no bad excitement for the last bit. Highlight came right before 97.25:
CS (Cranium Basher).jpg
It was Cranium Basher, which is an overall grailer for me, leaving Earthshifter, Grandfather, Mang’s, and Tyrael’s. So grail -4 :D

Runes were Mal #5, Vex, and Ist #4. The Vex led to a second HoTo ([email protected]), which is in the stash for body recovery kit. The other two nice finds were:
CS (Lightning Skiller of Sust).jpg
CS (SoJ).jpg
The SoJ is stashed because Mara’s with a 10 FCR ring is still better than 2/10 caster ammy/SoJ due to resists and +all skills for Battle Orders. Other finds meriting screen shots were Tomb Reaver (2os) and the Gnasher.

Pestilence also got a little more than an hour LK, with Ohm #2 and Um #6. The Ohm actually came from a monster, I think (you almost can see the dead body). No charm upgrades sadly. He also burned through 70 pamethysts with nothing to show for it.

He’s dabbling in p5/p7 Nihl runs in the hopes of getting a Nihl skiller to start burning through the 500 pgems he has stashed. It’s surprisingly safe with only ~2200 life, with a quick bail when amped and vipers and lots of witches around. He just slugs it out with Nihl’s CE, winning the battle due to 125 FCR with the HoTo. He hasn’t lost the merc or golem yet and has a couple pixels on the XP bar. I’m hoping lightning strikes and he gets a high rune.

Keep up the progress, everyone!
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted May 6, 2018

As for me, Phaedrus hit the stretch goal before the start of RFL Round 3, just reaching 3.1B XP or a little past 97.5:
3.1B.jpg
At his current rate, one 20-hour set will see him to 3.205B or so, leaving just under 5 hours to finish the level (all this, of course, assumes no deaths :rolleyes:).

Drops from the last 50M were very disappointing, but the first 20M for this update more than made up for it. Actually, his first 20M didn’t see anything good except runes: Ist #5, Ohm #4, Sur #2, Mal #6, and Lo #2. That wouldn’t be a terrible RFL score actually, and from just over 4 hrs. Only other item of note was unique Shadowplate.

The second Sur allowed Phaedrus to cube a Ber, which went into his Shako and has since been personalized. That also was when we rerolled maps, looking for more stable boss pack density and landed on the current map.

There are always 2 boss packs immediately on entering the lava-path part of RoF right after the WP (sometimes three) and then one stable boss pack just northwest of the pentagram (sometimes up to three) and another (sometimes multiple if there weren't extras to the northwest) to the northeast of the pentagram toward the de Seis seal. Finally, there are three stable shrines (one by WP, one at entrance, one on Vizier’s arm).

Phaedrus is doing p8/p7 runs, with XP anywhere from 180k-250k per run. Even with targeting groups of finger mages, he is netting a little more than 5M/hr. His MF is at 204, still reasonable. So I think he will keep this map for the last half of the level.

But the nice XP progress has been offset by a dry spell of drops: only Mal #7 on the rune front, a 5/3 lightning facet, Azurewrath (his first), and a plain 20 vita SC (to replace a plain 19 one).

He will not risk a great rune drop by progressing any further before Friday. I have a busy work week anyhow, so I may just try to get a few LK runs in with Pestilence before RFL Round 3 starts.

Edit: We decided to burn the Ohm and are very happy with the decision (upgrade over +4 BO/+5 BC one):
Screenshot009.jpg
 

PhineasB

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Originally posted June 3, 2018

Champion Phaedrus and Waheed the Might Desert Merc, Lvl 98 (pic)
Since his last update at 97.5, Phaedrus was my entry in RFL Round 3, getting 100M XP over some 19 hours and 40 minutes. Top item finds are here, with a more complete rundown of the RFL set, including runes, here.

I had actually hoped to finish a full 20-hour and then start a second to finish the level and then move back to Pestilence. But I hurt my left hand and ending taking a nearly two-week break to make sure it was okay (which it is :)). So we finished the last >30M over the last three days. The last 4M were very lucrative, with an eth Shako and 5/4 lightning skiller dropping from Diablo and an SoJ from a boss (Edit: turns out he had found two SoJs prior to this):
Code:
Harlequin Crest
Shako
Defense: 163
Durability: 7 of 7
Required Level: 62
Required Strength: 40
Fingerprint: 0x80073e5e
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+2 to All Skills
All Stats +2
+147 to Life (Based on Character Level)
+147 to Mana (Based on Character Level)
Damage Reduced by 10%
50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Ethereal

Rainbow Facet
Jewel
Required Level: 49
Fingerprint: 0x21a95e2f
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
100% Chance to cast level 41 Nova when you Level-Up
Adds 1 - 74 Lightning Damage
-5% to Enemy Lightning Resistance
+4% to Lightning Skill Damage

The Stone of Jordan
Ring
Required Level: 29
Fingerprint: 0xa82a91f0
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+1 to All Skills
Adds 1 - 12 Lightning Damage
+20 to Mana
Increase Maximum Mana 25%
Other notable finds over the last stretch were Torch of Iro, Nightwing's, eth Demon's Arch, and Trang's helm.

Combined with the drops up to 97.25, 97.5, and the RFL round, I can confirm the hammerdin gives some solid drops while on the journey to 99. Runes for the level were a tad disappointing, I guess, but hardly complaint-worthy:
Code:
Mal x4
Ist x5
Gul x2
Vex x2
Ohm
Lo
Sur
He also picked up an overall grailer, Cranium Basher, so I’m now at grail -4 overall. :cool: And he got lots of TC87 items, including some relatively rare ones, plus lots of eth uniques to contribute to my eth grail. The biggest disappointment was charms, with still only 2 skillers and minimal SC upgrades.

Reflections on 97-98. As I speculated before diving into the level, p8/p7 runs ending being more efficient for Phaedrus than Gripphon runs, by a pretty significant amount. I think it’s a combination of two things. First, the map I eventually settled on, which I really like (except I really would have preferred the other de Seis layout for safety), spawns a lot of the map’s boss packs up by de Seis. So it wasn’t optimal for Gripphon runs. Second, being somewhat underpowered (only 10k hammer damage).

That said, the math is pretty interesting, with as much XP from Diablo alone as Vizier + Infector at level 97. Adding in XP for de Seis and occasional shrines for Diablo, I’m unsure it won’t be faster for builds that can handle de Seis in many cases. For me, it was. I was averaging 5.2-5.5M/hr when I checked periodically over the last half level. By comparison, two 10-minute test sessions of Gripp runs were on pace for 4.6M and 4.7M. Small samples, I know, but pretty close together and well below the p8/p7 rates.

I think @Yng requested a video a while back, so I made a short one with two runs for anyone who’s interested. I know the standard approach is to finish on Vizier, but I decided to shake things up because he'll have >5000 counter-clockwise runs for the last level (and the seal shrine was unstable if starting at Infector). I'm also still being cautious with my hand, so that's why I didn't use the tele-trick.
Edit: vid should be working now (had it set to private apparently :rolleyes:)

Next Steps. First up is a break from CS. :p But I think I’ll get back to him to start testing things out, first sticking with the current map at p7. With the SoJ, and I am pretty sure I will drop the Mara’s in favor of 2/10 caster ammy, which means we’ll need to drop the 86 FHR breakpoint and go with Aldur’s boots for fire resists and +life or Waterwalk and fire resist charms. Better charms would provide more options here. I think the merc may get the Shako in place of delerium (which finally got annoying at the end); p7 makes the seal bosses less scary, and I may even end up going down to p1 for de Seis.

I guess I had forgotten that seal bosses and Diablo don’t appear to drop TC 87? That's a bummer. But I think rune drops and eth grail will keep things engaging. I also will probably hit boss packs at times for change at some (or multiple points) over the course of the final level.

I had thought about respecing to a tele-smiter for Nihl, but I haven’t even really looked at his stash for such an approach and realized he has only one respec left. I may test it out with another pally I have at level 92 (my former hammerdin), and if it’s so much faster, I can always look at the stash and see if I can make it work.
 

PhineasB

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Mar 14, 2020
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Originally posted September 8, 2018

Phaedrus has been plugging away here and there, with the MFO warm-up tourney and then MFO limiting the time for CS runs and then a very busy work week. But the here-and-there allowed him to reach 98.25, as he was a little past 98.2 before MFO, getting roughly 12M this week. He’s still doing straight p7 runs, hitting boss packs in CS, averaging somewhere around 2.2M/hour. I think I'll be able to keep this approach at least for the next quarter level, but at that point may transition to more XP-efficient approach.

Finds for the past 0.15 of the level continued to be solid. For runes, we picked up Lo #3, Vex #4, Mal #9, Gul #7, Sur #4. But the major drop was this, giving him three:
98 (Combat Pally Skiller).jpg
Finally :D It fell right at 3.290, and the difference was noticeable. Another nice charm upgrade was this Ruby SC of Vita. In terms of drops, TC87s from boss packs were Executioner’s Justice and Death’s Fathom, which both fell after 98.2. Other notable finds were Spirit Keeper #2 and #3, Boneflame, Boneshade #2 and #3, and Demonhorn’s Edge #2. TC3s were Lemyo, Rixots x2, and Knell Striker. Here he is at 3.30B.
 

PhineasB

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Mar 14, 2020
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Originally posted October 7, 2018

Now that I’m back from vacation, Phaedrus is back moving again, picking up .15 of the last level and is at 98.4. We started off with some caution due to the break, but quickly got back to comfortable with the approach: straight p7 runs, hitting megademon and finger mage boss packs in CS.

Playstyle is pretty straightforward and there wasn’t too much excitement (except four runs in a row with convicted Infector—one had another boss with it instead of him—that was fairly easily managed). So we’ll go straight to the drops (runes and items now numbered just for level 98-99, instead of overall since he started running CS). Chaos Sanctuary welcomed him back with open arms!

For runes (Mal+), we picked up: Gul #5, Sur #2, Vex #3, Vex #4, Ist #1, Ist #2, Ist #3, Mal #2, Ohm #1, Vex #5, and Vex #6 (last two were on consecutive runs), plus Jah #1 shortly after the Sur:
98 (Jah #1).jpg
The TC87 drops were Windforce and Stormspire, with a Stonecrusher dropping that runed out eth and a Stormlash. Other notable drops were Cerebus #2 and Wolfhowl #2, Arkaine’s #2, an eth Gladiator's Bane with >2000 defense, up to Boneshade #5 now, and a few TC3 uniques.

I think the best drop of the stretch (along with the Jah) was this skiller, with the SC also being quite nice (and certain to make its way to my Pitzerker):
Code:
Entrapping Grand Charm of Vita
Grand Charm
Required Level: 69
Fingerprint: 0x1be94ab3
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+1 to Trap Skills (Assassin Only)
+40 to Life

Fine Small Charm of Good Luck
Small Charm
Required Level: 33
Fingerprint: 0xebca4d00
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+3 to Maximum Damage
+13 to Attack Rating
6% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
For those who looked at the screenies, they illustrate what I’ve come to conclude about why hammerdins are so strong for runes to 99: it’s not the build per se, but the drops from p7 mobs when Vizier is taken out after popping the last seal. The Jah, Sur, eth Stonecrusher, and two of the Ists came from that mechanic. And that’s just in ~45M XP worth of runs, so over the course of 98 that’s a lot of extra drops, and hammerdins are generally the only build that runs CS/Diablo for the last level.

My plan is to keep this approach to 98.5. I will likely transition for while to p1 through de Seis and then p7 for Vizier and Diablo, hitting boss packs as we go. Going down to p1 for Infector and de Seis will allow him to swap SCs so he push MF instead of vita, and we’ll hope he can pick up one of my three overall remaining grailers :) It should also speed up the XP gain a bit.
 

PhineasB

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Mar 14, 2020
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Originally posted October 20, 2018
Screenshot018.jpg
Phaedrus is half way through the last level. With Ancients left, he has a little more than 100M XP to go! The last tenth of the level was uneventful until the very end. In terms of runes and S/Us, aside from Mal #3 very early, there was nothing of note for the first 25M or so. Then just short of 3.37B, Sur #3 (from de Seis), and then, with a little less than 3M to go, the biggie that I posted earlier in item-find thread:
98 (Zod).jpg
As @Albatross noted, it's pretty cool that it came from Diablo himself. Very memorable for my first Zod, and it also completed Phaedrus' rune drop grail. We rounded things out with Vex #7 in the last few runs before hitting the milestone. The only TC87 unique was Windforce #2.

He also finally found a 50 fire resist pair of Aldurs. Other drops of note were Leviathan x2, another Redeemer, set Corona, IK armor, Horizon's, Demonhorn's, and quite a few non-eth TC3 uniques. These are some interesting rares:
Code:
Demon Casque
Circlet
Defense: 27
Durability: 31 of 35
Required Level: 67
Fingerprint: 0xdc060737
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+2 to Druid Skill Levels
+20% Faster Cast Rate
Adds 7 - 23 Cold Damage Over 1 Secs (25 Frames)
+7 to Strength
+40 to Life

Wraith Hold
Ring
Required Level: 66
Fingerprint: 0xd1b6bbf4
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+10% Faster Cast Rate
+19 to Attack Rating
7% Life stolen per hit
+18 to Strength
+18 to Mana
+1 to Mana after each Kill

Bitter Gyre
Ring
Required Level: 48
Fingerprint: 0x7c074a51
Item Level: 94
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+10% Faster Cast Rate
+56 to Attack Rating
Cold Resist +28%
All Resistances +10
Damage Reduced by 2
At this point, I am going to switch from straight p7 runs to p1/p7 with the switch to p7 before Vizier, but still hitting all boss packs along the way. That should speed up the XP gain marginally (he was at 2.3M-2.4M/hour, depending on shrine luck).

Due to safer Infector and de Seis, I will also test out dropping some vita SC charms and reduce the fire resist overstack in favor of more magic find. After the Zod, I'm now thinking he could pick up one of my remaining grailers :D But his current 197MF limits that possibility. I think he'll be able to get up to ~250MF without compromising safety on the lower player setting. But we'll see . . .
 

PhineasB

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Mar 14, 2020
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Originally posted November 6, 2018

It's really nice to have company through the last stretch. Speaking of which . . . Phaedrus made his way to the summit:
Summit.jpg
To check out the view and make sure he knew how to get there. :p He’s a little past three-quarters of the way through the level, at 3.450B. With Ancients quest reward, just at 30M left to go!

Drops over the last quarter level slowed down compared to first half, but still quite some nice ones due to volume of runs involved. In terms of drops meriting screen shots (at this point), things started off nicely with Sur #4, then a big dry spell before the Cham posted in find item thread fell to complete his rune drop grail just from 98-99:
98 (Cham #1).jpg
Gul #6 fell shortly after, followed by Ohm #2 and Mal #4. Then we picked up Metalgrid to complete unique amulet drops for Phaedrus, and another dry streak before BKWB (his second), as an upgrade. It threw off his gear symmetry, but the +life relative to SoJ is worth it and brings him back close to 3700 HP with Battle Orders active. His final meaningful drop was Jah #2 (from Diablo, feeling generous after the Zod), which was nice:
98 (Jah #2).jpg
Mixed in were Pul #7-9 and Um #3. There were lots of other S/Us—another set corona, Medusa’s x3, HHG, Spirit Keeper, Messerschmidt’s axe, multiple unique pelts and barb helms , another IK armor, multiple Arkaine’s, another Horizon’s, and Fleshripper. The highlight was this, my overall first eth one:
Code:
Vampire Gaze
Grim Helm
Defense: 378
Durability: 21 of 21
Required Level: 41
Required Strength: 48
Fingerprint: 0x1de88cdb
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
Adds 6 - 22 Cold Damage Over 4 Secs (100 Frames)
7% Mana stolen per hit
8% Life stolen per hit
+100% Enhanced Defense
15% Slower Stamina Drain
Damage Reduced by 20%
Magic Damage Reduced by 15
Ethereal
Which made me look at my stashes and presented an interesting data point. There are some items that I always picked up from the start of this restart, no matter how many I had in the stash, due to possibility of improving overall rolls. Vamp was one of them, others were War Travelers and Reaper’s. I stopped picking up the regular Vamp Gazes sometime during Hiatus’ journey. There were 24 in the my overall stash (a consolidated project in GoMule that I use to check grail status), before this eth one. I have not stopped picking up Reaper’s Toll, and we are at 47 without an eth one. What are the odds of that?

Anyhow, to round things out, the nice charms and rares from this stretch are in the spoiler:
Code:
Ruby Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 22
Fingerprint: 0x4877a88e
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+12% Faster Hit Recovery
Fire Resist +29%

Steel Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 41
Fingerprint: 0x85571867
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+12% Faster Hit Recovery
+129 to Attack Rating

Sounding Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 42
Fingerprint: 0xfac96dcd
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+1 to Warcry Skills (Barbarian Only)
+12% Faster Hit Recovery

Fine Small Charm of Balance
Small Charm
Required Level: 29
Fingerprint: 0xfb11ee09
Item Level: 85
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+5% Faster Hit Recovery
+3 to Maximum Damage
+20 to Attack Rating

Fine Small Charm of Inertia
Small Charm
Required Level: 27
Fingerprint: 0xf4a84ca7
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
+3% Faster Run/Walk
+3 to Maximum Damage
+18 to Attack Rating

Arcing Small Charm of Shock
Small Charm
Required Level: 57
Fingerprint: 0x915ce398
Item Level: **
Version: Expansion 1.10+
Unidentified
Adds 2 - 44 Lightning Damage
Sadly, we are still on 3 pally combat skillers. He picked up two more offensive aura skillers and another defensive, which was a bummer that it didn’t roll to the other skill tree. Oh well.

Progress-wise, he went to p7-p1-p7 with p1 switch before de Seis and back to p7 for Vizier for almost this entire stretch. After a near death in the 3.42B range from convicted Infector and being not fully focused, we went to p1-p7 when I was a bit tired or distracted, for the extra safety. XP/hr was close to 2.5M (probably averaging 2.45M) when focused, but I wasn’t pushing things too hard so it was likely lower than that overall.

He was still hitting boss packs along the way, with a disappointing zero unique TC87s for this entire quarter level. The last 2M to hit 3.450B skipped boss packs, which sped things up a bit.

I think we’ll go back to hitting boss packs, hoping for a grailer in the last 30M even if it’s slightly longer than otherwise. I thought he might finish up this weekend with the extra day due to Monday holiday here. But it looks like we'll be able to go backpacking instead, which is nice. So it may not be until next weekend that Phaedrus pings the final level. But he is close!

Good luck to all the other runners!
 

PhineasB

Well-known member
Mar 14, 2020
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284
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Originally posted November 12, 2018

Phaedrus made it!
99.jpg
The drops for the last bit were solid: Mal #5, Ghostflame, Ist #4, Mal #6, Gul#7, and Mal #7. He also had another Griffon's but the screenshot didn't seem to take for some reason. Um #4 was his last meaningful with a few million left before Ancients and the final run, and he also got an 4os eth Cryptic Axe that got a nice Insight roll. Highlight was Ber #2 between the Gul and Mal #7:
98 (Ber #2).jpg
In all, very pleased with the drops for 98-99 and nice to have him finished. I'll try to post the write up tomorrow evening!