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How the 1.10 Pindleskin "nerf" failed and Snapchip suffered

Luhkoh

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
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A while back I heard on dbrunski125's stream a claim that that Snapchip was bugged and dropped poorly. Since I had recently seen the tournament on here that included snapchip and @ffs 's theory crafting for fire sorc snapchip runs, I thought I would investigate this further.

It turns out reddit/discord/youtube user ubeogesh is the one who made this claim, and he helped me come up with a lot of the information that follows. He also tested these theories through manipulating the treasureclassex.txt file, and I will include a link to his youtube video summarizing this later in the post. As that could be construed as somewhat spoilery, I wanted to add the disclaimer near the beginning to NOT READ FURTHER IF you don't want to see theories that were confirmed by manipulating the treasureclass file. But I assume this type of testing is how we figured out drop mechanics in the first place.

TLDR: Pindle and Thresh Socket are fine, the nerf failed. But don't bother running Snapchip or Frozenstein.

The Pindle Nerf

So at release of 1.10, blizzard tried, and failed, to nerf thresh socket and pindleskin. They did so by adding a new treasureclass for the two of them: Act 1 Super Ax through Act 5 (H) Super Cx. Their treasure class assignment can be seen in the superuniques.txt file. The one of interest is the TC assigned to hell Thresh and Pindle: Act 5 (H) Super Cx.

The attempted nerf was changing the "Unique" factor in the fifth column to 512 rather than the old value of 800. As @ffs details here, this WOULD greatly decrease pindle's efficiency. However if you look in the picks for TC Act 5 (H) Super Cx, the relevant pick is Act 5 (H) Uitem C. If we then look at that TC, the "Unique" factor is 800. As the ATMA creator notes here, the game uses the maximum value found for this factor when going through the TC tree. So we can conclude from this that Pindle and Thresh are the same as they've always been.

Based on new info from Jarulf and Ruvanal, it has been discovered that Pindleskin and Threshsocket are not as "nerfed' as one would expect. The basic idea that Blizzard had to "nerf" Pindle and Threshsocket was to drastically reduce the odds of them dropping uniques and sets. In order to implement this, a new TC was created for them. Every TC has an associated bonus to the chances of unique/set/rare/magic items dropping and this is where Pindle and Thresh got hit hard.

Every TC is defined recursively in terms of "lower" TCs such that you need to traverse the drop tree to determine what item gets dropped. However, the game keeps a running check of the maximum bonuses. Because the TC that Pindleskin and Threshsocket drop from intersect paths with the TC that Snapchip and Frozenstein drop from, the Pindleskin TC gets it's bonuses upgraded to what Snapchip/Frozenstein would have. This means that Pindleskin drops exactly like those two while Threshsocket has a slightly worse chance than Pindle because his mlvl in Hell is 84 (this affects the chance for a given quality) as opposed to Pindleskin who is mlvl 86 in Hell.
However, this failed nerf had an unexpected consequence. Enter the...

Treasure Class Upgrade

As described in the item generation tutorial this is SUPPOSED to happen when a monster's mlvl is greater than the level of its TC (column 3 in treasureclassex.txt). The game would then see if there is a TC of a greater level within the same "group" (column 2 in the text file) and upgrade the monster's treasure class to that one. This is why mlvl 88's in Ancient Tunnels or The Pit can drop any item in the game despite naturally having a TC specific to their act.

Now I've heard rumored from several places, and I think among them some of the drop calc creators, that superuniques do not upgrade TC's. This is incorrect and I'm not sure where the rumor started. I will describe how this was proven incorrect in the testing section near the end. For now, suffice to say that superuniques upgrade their TC's in Nightmare and Hell just like anything else. However, the algorithm described in the item generation tutorial is slightly wrong.

All monsters have treasure classes, written in monstats.txt file. When you kill a monster in normal difficulty the game simply uses its TC to drop items. However in Nightmare and Hell difficulty the given TC may be upgraded. When determining the TC for a monster, the game selects the highest level TC in the group that is equal to or less than the Mlvl. If there is no group for TC of this monster, than it doesn't upgrade TC. Treasure classes that are included in the selected TC aren't upgraded.
What the game really does is look at the the "next" TC down in the list from the monster's native one. If that "next" TC is in the same group, and is less than or equal to the mlvl, then the game checks the next one. On until the TC being checked is in a different group or the TC lvl is higher than the mlvl.

This seems pedantic, because the TC lvl's in a given group always ascend down the file EXCEPT in group 18 (the ones relevant to superuniques). When blizzard added in the "Super x" classes in the attempt to nerf Pindle and Thresh, they pasted them directly below the old Super classes. So when a monster drops from the regular Super classes (Act 1 Super A through Act 5 (H) Super C), the game does this "next" check for TC upgrades. As Act 5 (H) Super C has a lvl of 96, and no relevant monster has a mlvl of >96, the upgrade check will always stop at or before Act 5 (H) Super C, before proceeding into the the Super x classes, EXCEPT if the monster's native TC is Act 5 (H) Super C. The "next" TC in the list here, has a lvl of 0 (Act 1 Super Ax). Therefore, when a monster's native TC is Act 5 (H) Super C, it will get unfavorably "upgraded" to whatever Super x class comes in just under the mlvl.

What monsters drop from Act 5 (H) Super C? There are a list of 5 in the SuperUniques.txt file, but only two actually made it into the game: Snapchip Shatter and Frozenstein. Since they are both mlvl 86, their TC gets "upgraded" to Act 4 (H) Super Bx, which in effect causes them to drop the same as Infector or Vizier in the CS. Not too good. So that is why Shapchip is bugged, and I wouldn't think we would want to run him in more tourneys. Lastly I'll describe the txt file manipulation that went into proving the statements above.

Testing/Proof

Reddit/discord/youtube user ubeogesh did all of this treasureclassex.txt manipulation testing, and I'm grateful. He made a youtube video summarizing his method here.

Basically he changed it so that the relevant TC's has 100% chance to drop a specific rune, and saw which rune popped out, proving they indeed upgrade as described. Not included in the video, he also tested Dark Elder to show that superuniques who are not Snapchip or Frozenstein do upgrade as intended.

He was also unaware that the pindle nerf had failed and tested this. He set the unique factor to zero in all but one of pindle's TC's in the recursive tree for each one, and he was still always able to drop a unique, confirming that the maximum value is always used. That's it. Hope its useful!