HC Untwinked Normal Diablo/ HC Musings

Mar 13, 2020
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The late Lovelace the sorceress just died by lightning hose from the infamous Diablo, 350 health gone in less than a second. She will be missed. As all my HC characters are untwinked and must face Diablo eventually I need your expertise. I've long since forgotten what its like to have to defeat him outside of a party or having super gear.

My lightning resist was a little low but I didn't find many diamonds, topazes, or ort runes. I'm a little sad I lost my Hand of Broc and Hotspurs but those can be farmed from my favorite monster Andariel.

I have to say the pain of losing your character and gear isn't the most fun but it adds a certain charm when you finally defeat that one monster. It also adds a real consequence to being undergeared or unprepared, when I die in SC it doesn't really do anything except lose some gold, in HC it feels like there is an actual challenge.

But all that aside, what do my fellow Players do for survival in HC untwinked? I'm still pretty new to HC, but I'm set on it, and will eventually make a Guardian Sept of all 7 classes.
 
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Jocular

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Jul 17, 2020
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Just general untwinked HC advice? Let me try to think up some hard rules...in no particular order:

1. No advancing into new rooms without a clear and unimpeded escape route behind you to regroup in a safe area.

2. Check your belt before and after every encounter.

3. Open every single barrel/urn/rock.

4. Make the monsters' AI work for you. Instead of letting fights happen where you find them, use your environment, spacing, running, to break up groups of monsters to make them less lethal. Playing a Fendazon will make you learn this lesson incredibly well, since the number of times you attack is equal to however many monsters there are within range. If you get lazy, you will find yourself stuck attacking far longer than you meant to while getting attacked. I had multiple NDEs before learning my lesson.

5. Patience. Never risk it for the biscuit in HC. Forcing your way into a room with 1 Unraveler and skeletons piled up against the door just became a descent into an adrenaline filled ride because in the corner there was a boss pack of extra fast cold enchanted bats that you didn't see before. In this case, draw the skeletons back outside of the Unraveler's resurrection range and then peek inside the room.

6. No backing into corners. This is related to rule #1.

7. Extreme caution around Lightning enchanted monsters as melee. You attack, get put into hit recovery from the lightning bolts, then get hit by the monster itself or a minion and get put into recovery again...It can spiral quickly.

8. Mandatory trips into town to rid yourself of Amp when fighting Cursed monsters. It's annoying, and it may take 10 town portals, but it's better than dying.

9. Let your merc handle the bone fetish/stygian dolls since your merc is immune to the dolls' death explosion.


For Diablo, you just really have to pick your moments carefully. No getting impatient, if you don't wait for the right time you'll get fried. It's similar to fighting a Dark Souls boss in a way. Also I never ever make a tp if he's still on-screen to reduce the chances of the rage inducing 1-2 punch of bone prison+lightning hose. Find good spacing. Not too far, not too close. Too far, and he's liable to lightning hose all day. Too close, and his melee attacks are quite damaging. He's safest when he's moving, and finding the right spacing to induce that will make your fight easier. This is assuming ranged.

If melee, just keep a steady finger ready for your thawing potions, and try to have some FRW. Don't fight in the star, there's not enough room to move for when he uses the lightning hose.
 

Serdash

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Jul 22, 2020
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Norman, Oklahoma
In Act 2 of Normal, you can shop a decent shield for blocking. I think it's Mechanics(? May be off on the prefix, 2 open sockets) Bone Shield of Deflecting. Throw two Eld runes in it (hit the countess a couple of times, you'll have plenty) and that sets you on having a low requirement, reasonable blocking shield (If I remember, hose can be blocked) which can save your skin in surprise situations.

On that same note, if you're a sorceress, Glacial Spike is probably one of the single best crowd control skills in early game. At least for me it is. Stops normal monsters in their tracks for a moment for you to get your footing.

Any time I'm going through untwinked, if I don't have restrictions on myself on rerunning areas or anything of that sort, I really do try to hit normal countess a few times to get a basic rune pile going. Stealth, Ancients Pledge, Leaf, Lore, these are all low level (<level 30) rune words that you can get the rules for at countess in normal (except maybe a Sol rune for lore? I forget what she can drop, maybe only up to Ral in normal, either way cubing up to an Ort is pretty painless for Ancient's Pledge). If I'm playing a melee class I'll stray more towards full clearing, opening everything, and re-running if need be to get an extra couple of levels or better items.

Also for general survivability, don't forget runewords like Nadir that come with charges of Cloak of Shadows. Want to ruin that pack of ranged monsters and pick them off at your leisure? Cloak of Shadows is great for that.

For Diablo himself, though, depending on the type of character I'm playing I always play the long game. Pick a couple of shots/hits, back off, let him cycle through a couple of things, jump back in. Without decent fire resistance this tactic can hurt because of his little flame nova being hard to avoid sometimes, but overall try to keep town portal ready in case he bone prisons you (this hasn't happened to me in ages, tbh).

I try to set my mercenary up with as much stopping/tanking power as possible. Steel/Malice are fantastic runewords that can get some nice ED% going. If you're a melee class, break the mold and get a cold mage from Act 3 (remember that glacial spike I was talking about? Aww yisss) to help with crowd control. For a squishier character I almost always go with the Act 2 prayer merc with a stabby runeword weapon and I'll give him Stealth if I can to help with overall survivability/killing power.

At the end of the day it comes down to playstyle. The few times I play HC I play overly cautious and I tend to get myself as strong as possible for whatever is coming up next. If you're looking for a single pass/full clear type playthrough, learn what your character can and should do, and know how to use those abilities WELL. (Curses for necromancers, ice spells/teleport for sorceress, decoy for amazons, summons for druids, etc, etc)
 
Mar 13, 2020
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@Jocular Solid tips thank you. I feel like I'm learning how to play all over again, the SC habits and playstyle are dying slowly.

@Serdash I think I got too cocky with my sorc and tried to stand close to him so I could use static. Learned my lesson. I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to druids, do you have any suggestions for an untwinked one? I was leaning either elemental or FC/SW bear.

Riemann is level 69 and just found a String of Ears mid-roll. I also found a [email protected] aerin shield to make rhyme in, as soon as I can get all my resistances above 45 for NM I think I might move on. Trying to play it safe.
 
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Serdash

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Jul 22, 2020
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Norman, Oklahoma
@Jocular Solid tips thank you. I feel like I'm learning how to play all over again, the SC habits and playstyle are dying slowly.

@Serdash I think I got too cocky with my sorc and tried to stand close to him so I could use static. Learned my lesson. I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to druids, do you have any suggestions for an untwinked one? I was leaning either elemental or FC/SW bear.

Riemann is level 69 and just found a String of Ears mid-roll. I also found a [email protected] aerin shield to make rhyme in, as soon as I can get all my resistances above 45 for NM I think I might move on. Trying to play it safe.
For an untwinked druid it depends on how patient you want to be. Honestly a Wind Druid is super fun, but is going to have slow mid levels (~15 to ~30) in my opinion. Werewolf druid is a solid build as well, but expect to be reliant on luck or hunting down a good weapon. They get tons of life and plenty of attack rating, plus you can get grizzly or wolf summons to help tank.

Pure summon druid was pretty fun when I played one, just relatively item dependent to pump those skills high.

Edit: you also mentioned a FC/SW bear. I've never taken the time to build one of those. I think when I convinced my wife to play with me some years ago she played a werebear and had some fun with it. I just know in hell the werebear can be a difficult time
 

Jocular

Member
Jul 17, 2020
27
44
13
@Jocular Solid tips thank you. I feel like I'm learning how to play all over again, the SC habits and playstyle are dying slowly.

@Serdash I think I got too cocky with my sorc and tried to stand close to him so I could use static. Learned my lesson. I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to druids, do you have any suggestions for an untwinked one? I was leaning either elemental or FC/SW bear.

Riemann is level 69 and just found a String of Ears mid-roll. I also found a [email protected] aerin shield to make rhyme in, as soon as I can get all my resistances above 45 for NM I think I might move on. Trying to play it safe.
The SW/FC bear is a pretty good idea...until you get into Hell. Fire claws is not going to cut it for fire immunes, I don't care if you've read people claiming crushing blow and a 6 shael phase blade is enough. It ain't. For shape shifting, Maul/Fury can stand on their own two feet, but FC and Rabies need a hybrid build.

Also, an untwinked HC werebear/wolf in hell can be pretty dicey. You have to learn pretty quickly how to deal with ranged monsters by casting your bear behind them. Shockwave is great, but you can't close the distance between you and Extra Strong/Cursed/Cold Enchanted boss packs fast enough. Your bear will be recast often to force their AI so that they move into a more vulnerable position.

It was very difficult for my Maul/FC Bear to run countess for runes when I first got into hell. Lots of NDE. I was using Athena's Wrath. Once I upgraded Athena's things got easier. I think if you ran NM Meph for things like Ribcracker, Gores, and Jalals you'd be sitting pretty at the start of Hell. I didn't out of impatience :p