Keep the Merc Alive Challenge

NorthDakota

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
53
126
33
Howdy. Making this thread to track my progress for a challenge posed by @Maltatai to:

Clear all areas without ever losing your mercenary.

Rules:

1. If the merc dies, start over with new character
2. Same merc the whole game, no switching (any act is fine, like an act 5 merc, but no picking up a merc early and then switching to a later act's merc)
3. Twinking allowed
4. Clear all areas at least once, more is allowed
5. Hardcore or softcore allowed

Feel free to join in if you want to.

I'm starting sorceress, rushing to blood raven and picking up an act 1 merc as fast as possible, and then full clearing areas starting with the blood moor.
 

NorthDakota

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
53
126
33
Started out, put on khalim's flail, set /players 8 and plowed through to blood raven.

Screenshot040.jpg

I'll probably try to not use super cheesy twinking items once I get rolling, I just don't enjoy the early levels so I'm destroying my way up to around 15 or so before I start playing full caster mode. Got my Cold Rogue Maeko and put on some fancy items to make sure she crushes.

Screenshot041.jpg

The journey begins!
 

Maltatai

Active member
Mar 17, 2020
448
222
43
Sweden
I have been thinking of starting a tournament or something similar like this, awesome that you're seeing to it so I won't have to.

I think a sorceress with a rogue is a good team, I've had some surprising early (normal and nightmare) success with sorceresses and iron wolves. Rogues may lack a shield but on the other hand they can weaken enemies with some fancy effects from their bows, and Witchwild string is of course a nice defensive option if you have it available.

Normal Diablo is the main obstacle for me before the many multi-aura-enchantment-whatever-overload bosspacks of hell that appear pretty randomly. The only option in my experience if you lack teleporting is to tank him from the start and have the mercenary preferably weaponless in order to not attract his demonships fiery attention.
 

NorthDakota

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
53
126
33
Been playing /players 8 the whole way. Stopped using khalim's flail at level 12 and started casting. Decided to go something different than my usual twinked playthroughs - Nova. My reasoning is that nova is fun and when it stops working I'll just respec out of it. I also went down the cold tree for blizzard. Reason is that it's strong and I can cast and run away so it's probably what I'll be using more later.

I've been full clearing every area single pass style but of course with twinking. Gear has been just like random leveling uniques, cast speed gear, and this bad boy:

Code:
Triumphant Ring
Ring
Required Level: 2
Fingerprint: 0x6a0eaa60
Item Level: 54
Version: Expansion
+35 to Mana after each Kil

Kinda solves all my mana issues. I still have to drink potions sometimes because on /p8 stuff doesn't always die right away.

Act 1 went by quick with no scares - stuff dies before it poses a threat. I killed Andy on /p8 since static still works the same way :)
Screenshot043.jpg
Ring was a crappy 17% nagel :(

Act 2 I had more scares but I was absolutely cruising through. I was level 18 long before I hit act 2 and teleport is very useful. It's like teleport into big pack of monsters > Nova 3 times > Mana is full again from MPK ring > Teleport again. Charms like this one help out with my mana as well:

Code:
Snake's Grand Charm of Balance
Grand Charm
Required Level: 18
Fingerprint: 0xff280893
Item Level: 76
Version: Expansion 1.10+
+12% Faster Hit Recovery
+32 to Mana

Currently already sitting around 400 mana with zero investment in Energy. Slapped on a stealth at 17, wall of the eyeless for cast speed at 20, magefists at 23, and a 35% spirit broad sword at level 25.

My merc is doing well. Maeko's wearing a 1.09 Ravenclaw at the moment. This bow does a lot of damage to the target she hits, but for some reason the exploding arrow doesn't seem to actually do damage to surrounding mobs. She's had no close calls honestly, it's been ME that's almost died mostly because I always am getting in there focusing on not losing her. She's also very helpful against dangerous mobs, lightning resistant mobs, etc, as even on /p8 she's still killing things about as fast as I am (just 1 at a time). Here's her taking down Kaa.
Screenshot051.jpg

Cleared all 7 tombs - took down duriel on /p8 at a surprisingly high level 28. It was no issue, I drank a thawing potion before heading in and facetanked him myself, static to nothing and a couple novas and he was dead - Maeko at full health

Screenshot049.jpg

On to act 3!
 

NorthDakota

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
53
126
33
Act III - one close call, I almost died porting into a bosspack of flayers - maeko was fine. council was easy, they were split up well so I took them down a few at a time, porting away when scared. Some new gear for her, 199% skystrike, eth undead crown for ll%, eth hawkmail with resist jewel. Maeko took down mephisto on /p8. Really having a lot of fun with this. finished act III at level 32.

Screenshot057.jpg

Act IV - still on /p8, nova is starting to slow down even though it's maxed. 3 hard points in blizzard and 1 hard point in cold mastery. Now casting blizzard and novas between. Things dying quick. Slowly clearing ahead through most of river of flame and cs. No close calls here all the way up to big D. Diablo fight is really intense - fire hose even for an instant takes Maeko down to half health. Diablo's firestorm does the same. Circle of flame doesn't hurt too bad luckily. a few close calls here, had to port in carefully, static close range quickly, port back out, merc almost dies twice, then get D on the edge of the screen a couple more times with blizzard, porting away after, and we win! Definitely got my heart racing, still having lots of fun. Finished a4 at level 35

No cool pics from this act except a spectacular HF drop

Screenshot061.jpg

Act V - Easy through most of it - spamming blizzard and nova. Equipped merc with eth Stealskull, eth upped twitchthroe, and a Riphook Razor Bow. She's shooting so fast doing so much damage it's insane. She's still killing things quick on /p8, better than before she's poppin off dudes. She's also like invincible with all that phys damage and life leech. This bow is so insane I'm not sure why I've never used it before - open wounds, slows targets, life leech, ias, boatloads of ED I mean just look at it. She's bleeding the whole screen, cleaning up everything for me. I was convinced she'd be worthless through this whole playthrough but not the case, she's actually helping. A5 was a snooze really. It's so long, there are so many zones and huge zones and so many monsters. I almost died twice to a curse I had never seen before, the one that swaps your mana for your health, so when you cast spells you cast from your healthbar. ouch.

I did ancients on /p1 out of fear. It's the first time I've bumped it down. It was probably unnecessary but I don't want to take any risks by the time I got here since it took SO MUCH TIME. Back up to /p8 for the remainder of act 5 - waves were a little scary but my merc sat up behind me on the throne and I stood in front of her so I just had to worry about myself. Things died quick though at level 48. Baal was also no issue, just static and merc finished him off for fun.

Screenshot068.jpg



I don't think I've ever done a full clear of the entire game. The big difference I've noticed is that some monsters are legit scary and it happens regularly. I never realized how much I skipped when I played, if something posed a threat I'd just port away or quit out and start a new run or whatever. Even though I'm decked out, some monsters still pose a threat, and this merc is really helping with those because I can run around, avoid damage, cast when I can and she's just standing back hailing arrows on them it's nutty. IAS on gear really helps her out too, she shoots SO FAST. Lovin the act 1 merc choice for this run, it's tons of fun.

On to NM. I think I will complete this run. I think my biggest fear for losing this run is me dying, not my merc. The A1 merc just gets outta the way so fast, like if I teleport and stay put she'll still be able to get off me and move away from stuff. The only real trouble times are when I port directly into a pack of monsters, or lightning enchanted stuff.
 

Babyhell

Well-known member
Mar 13, 2020
1,397
853
113
France
@NorthDakota technically, it should be called an El forge.

For the ugly curse, I found this reference:
Blood mana curse. Obviously, it is regularly cast, but always (or almost) replaced (the cast is not replaced when a character has more mana than health, not that often amongst the various builds). Didn't even know about her existence before!

Good read, wouldn't imagine it was possible to get that far!
 
Last edited:

Maltatai

Active member
Mar 17, 2020
448
222
43
Sweden
@NorthDakota
Sounds like you're having a lot of fun, mission accomplished in that case I would say. Best of luck with Maeko in nightmare, it's an interesting read.

I absolutely recommend giving her Blackhorns Face if you have it, as scarabs and gloams pose a threat to even well guarded mercenaries. And combined with Riphook (best bow in the game in my opinion) it will slow bosses to a convenient crawl and help with champion packs and other troublesome vermin.

@Babyhell
The sky guardianhood is the limit. Very hard though. I managed to keep a barbarian mercenary alive throughout (Blackhorns Face was essential), lost a rogue to hell ancients (my mistake in not bringing a teleport staff) and a couple of other barbarians to conviction mages and archers in hell. A trio of iron wolves have made it halfway through Act I in hell unsvathed so far. Those are probably most relevant to Northdakotas character but depend a lot on their shields and swords for defense which the rogue can't.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Babyhell

Tears85

Active member
Mar 23, 2020
321
127
43
And I would start using purple potions as you´re basically playin hardcore! *angel*
 
Last edited: