All Spelled Out - Arkana the Untwinked Sorceress Reaches 99

Luhkoh

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Nov 20, 2019
Ok I'm ready for some technical discussion on how to gear up for nilly for 98-99 as a sorc.

First off I do NOT have griffons and DO have phoenix. I was thinking this would lead me to want to go fire, but you know me, I like to really dig in and see if I think that's true. Plus I know @PhineasB went light sorc without griffons and I THINK @Yng at least began nihla without griffons, but might be wrong on that. Anyways I also have 6 light skillers and 4 fire skillers. So i wanted to see if that would sway the balance at all.

1. Fire vs Lightning
I made THIS SHEET to evaluate the issue, and while flawed, I think its enough to show that they are essentially the same efficiency for the gear I have available. You can see the setup i was considering in the top left for both. Also I found THIS post from @NanoMist discussing nihlathaks probability to roll different modifiers. I think he should have 12 modifiers to choose from (14 minus poison enchanted and multi shot), but please tell me if I'm wrong, that would influence my numbers for sure.

So if they are the same efficiency, I am leaning toward fire because:
  • tankier setup (because fewer skillers, maras over caster ammy, redemption from phoenix, though fhr is tough)
  • more consistent dmg, so no randomly long times to wait around, increasing chance of death
  • better runes potential (I was estimating 4 minions killed per run with lightning and 10 killed from fire from watching @ffs 's and @Bewitch 's youtube videos, in the nihla runes sheet within the file above, you can see that's a difference between 3.9 and 5.3 "expected" vex+ runes+, so yes @Grape 's HAUL seems to be absurd :p ).
The main advantages of lightning in my mind are easy fhr and less spells to use. Perhaps a little easier on the left hand. I'm all for as brainless runs as possible, so this is appealing to me, but I don't think enough to outweigh the issues above.

If anyone has other points on this or other reasoning the pros and cons of lightning vs fire or thinks I messed something up or failed to consider something in my efficiency calc, please let me know :).

2. Fire gear
For now lets pretend I'm going fire, though again I'd love discussion on which is better. I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what i want for the runs. The main issue is how to balance fhr, fire res, and integer DR. My merc will be using a thresher infinity, so CE is more of a possibility than if I'd used a scythe, but ofc phoenix helps a tad with that. I included a CE dmg calculation on that sheet as well.

But anyways the real questions to me are:
1. shael vs sol in vmagi and shako
2. eschutas (3sk, 20% fire sk + 3/3 facet) vs hoto (would require hoto to achieve max fire res if dont use aldurs boots)
3. aldurs vs treks
  • FHR: note that I have a 12 fhr fire sk. I was thinking of doing shael in shako and in vmagi and then wearing aldurs and using eschutas. Could then use 2 fhr scs to hit 60, or just stay at 42.
  • FIRE RES: how big is it really? If you're cursed or something, even 75 vs like 30 fire res isn't a huge difference. But I'm not sure what to expect here really.
  • INT DR: will have 11 from nature's. No volcanic amulets of life everlasting or anything :(. Could also put a sol in armor and helm though for 25 total. Then would have either 14 or 20 fhr with aldurs, or 30 or 42 with treks depending on use of fhr scs.
Could also do some combination where I facet the shako and am able to swap between eschutas and hoto, but since I only have the 1 facet, it would be nicer in the eschutas. I might just do that and I can try out all of the above, but would love some input. I'll go ahead and tag @T72on1 and @Bewitch, the other fire sorc 99ers in here.

Anyways just having trouble figuring out what's more important. Don't know the relative risks of CE vs vipers and how much fire res/int dr increases your likelihood of surviving. Also I'd seen a wide range of fhr's used against nihla. If people have strong opinions on that I'd love to hear it. Hope it's not too annoying tagging so many people, but I'd love to stir up some discussion.
 

Luhkoh

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Dec 2, 2019
Hi all, back from vacation and ready to get back to playing some D2!

@ResTTe sorry about the death. Hopefully you got it out of the way! Also nice runtimes. Very similar to my times so far with my fire sorc. If you're running howl (which looks like it works quite well to me) is there any need for delirium on merc? Or I guess also is there any advantage of using something else? Maybe andys for faster decrep.

@Bewitch Nice progress! Glad to see you restarted the pally, and such luck on the fast arachs and maras!

@drmalawi Excellent progress on the can man!

@jjscud huge congrats on the enigma! And respect for no extended stash.

@D30D0R3 Why do you think fire would be faster than lightning for me? That is what I concluded with my spreadsheet, but only barely, and ffs seemed to think lightning would still be faster.

Viper clouds are most definitely still a big threat. I would say the primary threat. The issue is the nextdelay from being near merc, but hopefully through stepping away from him I can avoid that. Also I have seen I think one CE so far and it mustve been a low dmg roll on a low hp enemy, because it barely tickled. Hopefully that's a good sign rather than pure luck :). I also speculate merc cant kill arachs fast enough for nihla to get a CE on them, except when he's FE/LE.

The issue with cold is nihla has 70 base cold res, which causes him to roll unbreakable cold immune much more often than unbreakable fire or lightning immune. Because of this I dont think cold build can compete at all, unless you go blova or another hybrid like pb_pal did.

Equipping merc with a weak weapon is indeed a nice idea. Infinity is required however, and while it would be better in a strict sense, I couldn't bring myself to make my first infinity in a scythe like Bewitch or yng :p

@ffs thanks so much! Unfortunately I saw your reply after I specced to fire :p. Not sure it would have swayed me enough, but it is definitely input I would've considered. So you think lightning would have been faster even considering that calc I tried to do? Absolutely possible. Maybe after I get 99 I will do some runs with that lightning setup and see what the times are like. No promises though I might be too sick of the runs! Speaking of which, have you tried out the fire variant? I would be interested in how the high-end gear times compare with your light sorc with that mac no-lag. I'm sure it would be slower, but I doubt it's by much and it would be nice to have a basis of comparison from the same computer.

*****

NIHLA SETUP
So i did respec to fire and start the nihla runs. Though I'm only like 600 runs in so far. I actually went with a different setup (I'm calling it safety setup) and like it a lot so far. Basically I went hoto instead of eschutas. This fire res allows me to use treks instead of aldurs, which allows me to socket shako with sol instead of shael. Then I also am using a second natures peace instead of soj, for a total of 26 iDR instead of 11. Also I ended up with some really nice fire res/life small charms. Here's a video showing the gear and a couple of runs.

Video of setup and 10 runs

Please let me know if anyone sees some obvious improvements i can make on the runs whether for efficiency or safety.

I think the most important damage "breakpoint" with this fire nihla build is when you can kill nihla in 1 meteor (when he doesn't have res-boosting modifiers). I needed 1 more skiller to hit that somewhat consistently (needed 5 skillers instead of 4) with my max dmg setup. So since I couldn't hit that "breakpoint" I decided the smallish difference in dmg between max dmg setup and safety setup were something I didn't care about. That being said I'll probably try the soj at some point, but I think the hoto over eschutas is my final decision. So with that, I have a remaining socket quest that I don't think I will use. Maybe nihla will drop griffons and I'll switch to light sorc :)

S/E TIMES & RUNTIMES
Anyways the runs are going well so far. I did die in like the first ten runs just experimenting in the viper clouds (lol), but no close calls since then. Removing runeword mod made a huge difference in s/e times and then adding no sound seemed to shave off another second or so. So I think I'm around 3-4 seconds avg additional lag for this run (judged by comparing time of first session run to avg runtime). So leaves a bit to be desired, but I'm pleased with that small a number.

Also in the first like 100 runs I dropped boneflame and steelrend. Thats my 4th boneflame and 3rd steelrend, with none of the super cool tc87 uniques to my name.

Runtimes are 24.75s avg right now, and they are still going down, although slowly. Regular runs are ~22s, LE runs are ~23.5s, FE runs are ~27.5s and FE/LE runs are ~31s. Of course magic resistant and spectral hit make a difference too, but much less noticeably. I'm not checking (read: not rolling a map with) any shrines, so exp/hr is around 3.2m. Definitely pleased with that so far. My "minimum" goal was to avg 3m over the whole lvl (not counting any deaths) and that seems very achievable.

EXTRA SKILL POINTS
Oh one thing I didn't discuss earlier is what to do with the extra skill points after maxing the fire dmg and getting the range needed on static. I know @T72on1 put them in firewall, but I didn't see myself ever making use of that, and I know @Bewitch put them into inferno for the afterburn dmg on meteor. I played a few hundred runs without committing the points. I debated doing something defensive with them, but I'm not sure ES is a reasonable idea on a build that doesn't have plenty of mana, and I don't even find myself taking the time to cast frozen armor (despite having put a point in it). So I ended up putting the points in inferno. This SEEMED to immediately shave like 0.5s off the run, but I have a hard time believing it has that big an impact. But regardless I do think it makes a difference.

S/E & PICKING BEHAVIOR FOR SAFETY
Also as far as safety goes, if I see any one of: amp dmg, might, fana, vipers, I keep a finger over the esc button and stare at hp bulb. If i see any two of those, I probably just s/e. If I'm taking dmg through less volatile means (blood stars, archers), I just stare at hp bulb and s/e immediately if i see a number less than 1500. Do these seem like good protocols?

I also occasionally get low on mana, maybe every 15 runs or so. I'm just hitting malah real quick when that happens. Lose like 2 seconds on the run, but feels nicer than slowly using mana pots and needing to restock.

As far as picking behavior goes, I care a lot about this with the sorc. She feels fairly safe during the tele'ing to nihla and the killing (we'll see if i change my tune a few more weeks in though), but picking something up feels like it triples the danger. I walk to the platform to do so for fear of the nextdelay clouds, so it also adds a a few seconds to the runtime. Anyways, I'm thinking something like this for the picking behavior. Let me know what you all think.
  • Always pick up - useful uniques/sets, grailers, pul+ runes
  • Skip during nihla runs only - small charms, flawless gems, ral runes, rare gloves/pelts/claws/boots
  • Not sure, maybe skip as well - grand charms, rare rings, rare amulets, rare circlets
PLANS
I think for now I'm just gonna shoot for 15 mill per week (4.5-5 hours of play, and ~4 months time to lvl) and spend the rest of my weekly gaming time on other characters or even other games. Just take it easy for a bit. That being said, I'm sure at some point I'll rev up the pace to see faster progress. Happy playing everyone!
 

Luhkoh

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Dec 31, 2019
I'll sneak in an update right here before the new year. Made it to 98.25 at a steady rate of 15m exp/wk. I died once 4% in, so only like 1 hour time loss. Nothing too scary since then. Runes have been good. I dropped no pul+ runes for the first tenth, but the next tenth more than made up for it.
  • Runes: jah, ist, gul, ohm, vex, pul, ohm, ist, ohm
  • S/U's: boneflame, steelrend, perfect arreats, tals ammy, 4% ed off perf glad bane, 242/20 ravenfrost, seraphs hymn (last amulet in holy grail found), tals armor, highlords, spirit keeper, telling of beads
 

Luhkoh

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Feb 3, 2020
Alright now that i have finished my obp sets, I'm ready to get back to getting in some more focused nihla running. Update coming every monday now. Hoping to focus and grind this thing out.
fBd1j34.png

Got in 4-5 hours over the weekend and had a few nice finds.

Current lvl: 98.48
Approx. time to finish: 31.9 hours
Recent finds: shako, alma negra, tals amulet, eth guardian angel (180 ed), 12ed 4os eth colossus voulge
 

Luhkoh

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Feb 10, 2020
Current lvl: 98.58
Approx. time to finish: 23.2 hours
Recent finds: steel carapace, ber rune!, war travs 37 :(, dragonscale (grailer), 4/-5 light facet, maras 25, telling of beads, azurewrath! (but not a grailer), pul, gut siphon, 2 jalals, horizons tornado :(

Nihlathak's been dropping pretty nice for me lately.

@Kinkara those are some nice Baal drops! Very nice progress
 

Luhkoh

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Feb 17, 2020
Current lvl: 98.66
Approx. time to finish: 16.4 hours
Recent finds: tgods, giant skull, titans, alma negra, 4os eth gpa (first of these), gul run, vamp gaze

Been super busy at work as compared to usual and have been traveling the last two weekends, and now am starting house shopping seriously with the wife, so haven't been putting in the more serious grind I was thinking of toward finishing up this project. Nice and steady progress nonetheless. I'll keep the monday updates going, but might be more like 5-7 hours of progress per week rather than the 10-12 I was envisioning. We're getting close either way though!
 

Luhkoh

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Feb 24, 2020
Current lvl: 98.78
Approx. time to finish: 6.7 hours
Recent finds: eth wolfhowl, ohm rune (rolled another cta, #8 total, received my 5th 1bo :( ), vamp gaze, 33/15 dungos, shaftstop, tgods

NOW we are getting close :). Should be this weekend that I finish it, barring more than one death. Still busy at work. May wait till things settle down before doing the last handful of runs as to have time to properly enjoy it, make a nice video, and start a writeup. Anyways i'm getting pumped :).

@PhineasB crazy fast progress, and I'm glad you tested delirium some on baal barb. I was curious myself as to whether that would speed up runs. Would expect it do do so much less than wolfbarb ofc, but thought it still might shave 5 or 10 seconds off. I may still try it out just to get some corroborating data. Also much respect for the small stash. I sometimes forget you guys have that restriction added.

@Pb_pal really excellent progress from you too. Absolutely love the cham wolfhowl. Don't see that every day :p.
 

Luhkoh

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Finished migrating the updates to which I had links in the summary post! Was quite a tedious process, but I wanted to get it done in light of the old forum going down a while recently. I don't really expect anyone to reread an old 99er post in extreme detail, but if anyone sees anything amiss with the links or anything, please let me know!
 
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