#ThisBuildSUCKS Challenge aka pick an underestimated skill and finish the game on Hardcore.

broxi_111

New member
Jul 2, 2020
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Prague
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Hello everyone,

let me say I've been a little surprised that I've seen almost zero activity at the old forum. I've been wondering what happened to the community and whether you all guys went on to play Fortnite or something :D Fortunately RIP has pointed out to me about the forum migration so I'm happy to see everyone is still faithful to Diablo 2.

it's been a long time since I've posted any updates about Headora, THE P8 ONLY GEARLESS AMAZON. She's made it up to Ancient Tunnels. Then out of a sudden, an Invader managed to get to me and he took my Amazon down with a single blow. With -80 Fire Resistance, the damage she got must have been huge. Still didn't expect I could get a one-shot kill with approx. 1 500 HP.

My next challenge is something quite different. Over the years I got a ton of crazy builds ideas I never properly tested. However, with the current COVID situation, I got stuck at home for quite a while and managed to reach the Guardian title with all my current characters.

So I guess finally this is the right time to give my build ideas a shot, see how far will they make it, and share the progress with you guys. So ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce my new...

#ThisBuildSucks Challenge

The basic idea of this challenge is to pick a skill that is underestimated or overlooked by most of the players for any reason: it might be bugged or simply not commonly used due to being weak or totally useless. This skill has to be used throughout the entire game as the primary source of the damage. Mercenaries might assist obviously but they should not be knowingly used to deal with enemies while I'm pretending I'm busy with something else.

The goal is to make the game harder than usual and see how much or how little potential is there in the skills most of us consider useless. Also, this is not meant as a sadomasochistic self-torture but as a way of experiencing the walkthrough in a slightly different way.

Rules:
  • HC untwinked characters only
  • No extended / shared stash of any kind
  • /players 1 only all the way through
  • NO LADDER RUNEWORDS
I've made up the rules intentionally so I could play the game again clean and completely unmodified in any way. Having ladder runewords restricted will hopefully make better use of unique/rare/crafted items I'll find or make along the way. Personally I find using Spirit & Insight quite boring after all those years.

Characters
As I write this there are already two characters with a Destroyer title waiting to enter Nightmare. I might add a third or fourth one soon but I think for now I will stick with these two chaps.

Name
Main Skill & Class
Level
Title
Current Position
CarmagArctic Blast Druid35DestroyerLut Gholein (NM)
Gerard_WaySacrifice Paladin35DestroyerLut Gholein (NM)

Gerard_Way


I've made Sacrifice Paladin not because of lacking the damage. With maxed Fanaticism & Redemption the numbers look pretty neat. There's another reason: with Sacrifice, the Paladin suffers 8 % of all physical damage inflicted. Meaning if I strike for 1 000, I'll get -80 HP. Doesn't sound like much but trust me... the life pool can disappear very quickly, especially when surrounded by monsters like Frenzy Minotaurs.

The strategy formula I use prooved to be pretty safe in the most fights no matter how annoying it looks on first sight. It's something like:
HIT -> RUN BACK -> CHECK HP -> CAST LIFE TAP VIA WAND IF NEEDED -> HIT -> RUN BACK... etc.

For Normal, I decided to go for the strongest, longest range and slowest weapon possible: the Pike (gambled one from Alkor at LVL 20). And for two reasons:
  1. Paladin with Pike simply looks sick.
  2. Slow weapon speed helps me preventing from hitting too frequently, meaning losing my HP too quickly.
A huge help in this so far has been the A3 Cold Iron Wolf. He serves as a very valuable source of crowd control. While I'm stabbing, he freezes the enemies around me (it's up to 8 seconds in Normal I believe) reducing the damage I take quite immensely.

What helped me as well were some lucky drops. The first one was from Duriel: Hawkmail with CBF. There's no better starting armor for HC melee char.

hawkmail.png

A second drop came from Baal at the end of Normal: Zakarum's Hand. I've never used this one but I really like the idea of casting Blizzard every now and then. Plus Ignore Target's Defense might make a huge difference in how I'm able to hit enemies (at A5 it started to really suck).

zakarum hand.png

The progress through A1 Nightmare with Sacrifice Paladin so far hasn't been short of difficult fights and near-death situations. What I lack most at the moment, is the Lifesteal & AR (I have about 63 % chance to hit Fallen).

My ❄ Cold & Fire Resistances are slightly negative which also doesn't improve my survivability very much. Thank god for having CBF from Hawkmail, although just that doesn't assure anything at all.

I put most of my skill points into Fanaticism and most of my stat points into Dexterity. The AR slowly rises, which is a good thing. On the other hand, it comes at the expense of being slightly low on HP (approx. 370 + at level 32). With that in mind, I'm moving forward extra cautiously ready to turn back and run away in case I've encountered Cursed / Might / Extra Strong Archer boss pack.

Carmag


The motivation to start playing Arctic Blast Druid came from being a huge fan of Sorcerer's Inferno spell. When synergized and used properly it can be pretty effective. So I was wondering if Arctic Blast can work like that as well.

The first thing we have to realize is that Arctic Blast does only 50 % damage displayed.

Meaning if you put 20 points into the skill and all its synergies, according to skill description you should do approx. 1 000 DPS.

In reality, however, you max DPS would be only ~ 500. :mad:


This raised a question of whether to attempt this in the first place. Fortunately, I've had my old Wind Druid saves, so I decided to respec him, put on some gambled gear, and try how he would be able to handle Hell. The experiment went better than anticipated. So I started right from level 1.

Gotta admit I really love the graphics & sound effect of the spell.

On the other hand, I really hated fighting with Diablo. It took about 25 minutes before I managed to take him down. The blast didn't do much damage as I was unable to stay long in one place. So the only thing I could do was to run around, occasionally start casting, interrupting and letting my level 1 Poison Creeper and level 3 Ravens do the job. I know it sounds silly but if it wasn't for them I don't think I'd be able to kill him.


Baal went down easy due to finding Amn Rune and crafting Strength Poleaxe.

After beating him I decided for an unorthodox step and hire Fire Iron Wolf instead of Dessert Mercenary. Never tried him before plus I've found Hexfire in the Frozen River which would come useful. I did a test-run with my new mercenary in Cow Level and he was not bad at all. With Lower Resist Wand on switch and Bear in the front, I think this will be a fun combo.

Speaking of fun, this is a drop from Cow King. Guess we've been short of Bardiches or something o_O.

nk2k31x8d2551.jpg

The Druid is currently sitting at the start of A2 NM, waiting to move onwards once Gerard defeats Andariel. There is a ton of material to cut ️ just from the first act, plenty of tough fights and stuff. Can't wait for you to see.
 

saracen85

Well-known member
May 1, 2020
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Nice to see Sacrifice getting a bit of love. IMO it's quite underrated and definitely nowhere near sucking..

It's like having a Mogwai from Gremlins as a pet.:ROFLMAO:

Some tips:
1. When in doubt, LT everything
2. Having more than 8, 16 and 32 life leech on Normal/NM/Hell respectively allows you to hit leechables without having to worry about the penalty
3. Never hit inanimate objects
4. Never hit a retreating enemy when it has its back on you
5. Leech comes after penalty. So never hit an enemy when you're low on health. Try and get your health up as it can potentially bottleneck your damage
 
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broxi_111

New member
Jul 2, 2020
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Prague
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Thanks for the tips @saracen85 :) I always LT since entering NM, so many dangerous situations popped up already that it became a sort of a habit. As for getting enough life-leech: I'm playing untwinked, single pass. Meaning it might be pretty difficult to reach such high percentages. The most accessible source could be perhaps 6 socket lance, with 4× Amn and 2× Shael maybe? Not sure about this though as I'll be soon able to use Zakarum's Hand with that sweet ITD mod on it.

As for tips no. 3 & 4: can you elaborate a bit further on them? Why not attacking enemies facing me backward? And what are inanimate objects (Fire Towers, Lightning Sentries, maybe stuff like this?)
 
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saracen85

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May 1, 2020
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@broxi_111
Zakarums Hand is pretty good. An Honor runeword served me really well throughout NM. Decent damage & 7% lifeleech. I think it may even be decent enough for early Hell as well until you find an Elite Unique weapon. I guess stacking lifeleech in your case means bloodcrafting a lot

Take note that Paladins have worse FHR breakpoints with spears and staves.

As for point 3, things like towers/doors can't be leeched. So be careful especially in Act 5 😅

Point 4 is weird, even to my understanding. Hitting those retreating monsters with Sacrifice will penalise your health, but you don't get to leech back even with lifetap. Last I read, it has something to do with range.
 
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broxi_111

New member
Jul 2, 2020
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Prague
www.youtube.com
@broxi_111

Take note that Paladins have worse FHR breakpoints with spears and staves.

Yeah, plus having a shield is also nice for extra DR, right? :)


Btw. last weekend I've finished uploading the last part of the Normal walkthrough with Sacrifice Paladin. Both he and the Arctic Blast druid are resting at the start of A2 and I won't be playing them soon as I have a vacation to go to. When I'm back, however, I'll be pushing them forward again and will make the videos quite differently: include more interesting highlights, but make better edits so the clips are significantly shorter.
 
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