Building Wealth on the Ladder
A Guide for the Poor and Impoverished
Hey all. I’m Handofnaz, and this is my first attempt at writing a guide to, well, anything. This is just a compilation of things I’ve learned from playing the game and from other people, on the forums and off. I hope this offers enough information for the wretched and poverty-stricken among us. Comments and suggestions are very welcome. Happy reading.
So you finally got the modem up and running and you’re ready to break into the wide, wild world of Battle.net. You’re thrilled about the possibility of being able to quickly trade for equipment and items that will make your characters the best that they can be. Just one problem: you have nothing to trade. Fear not. It is every new player’s predicament, and older players go through it every time the Ladder resets. This is a guide that will help you gradually build the wealth that you truly feel you deserve. Now, I’m not promising godliness and high-level runewords cluttering your stash overnight. But I can promise that you will learn quite a bit about amassing wealth and excellent items, or, as I like to say, making the moneys.
I’ll be writing this in easy to understand terms, and I won’t bog you down with complicated formulas, jargon, charts, or anything of the sort. This is a guide to get you off the ground. If you’re interested in more specific details about the game (say, magic find ratios and percentages, item levels, treasure class levels, etc.), you can go ahead and check the many guides these forums have to offer. For now, let’s get on to making you super-rich! Or, rich. Or, just appropriately moneyed.
Everything’s fired up and you’re ready to go. Here are a few fundamental basics to help you make those crucial early-career choices.
Everyone knows that any character in the game can be effective at magic finding, or MFing, in most cases the primary method of wealth building in Diablo II. What you do is slap on some equipment with the mod “x % Better Chance of Getting Magic Item”, go kill some monsters, and hope for the best. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a bunch of great magical, rare, set, and unique items to use, store, or trade. People spend countless hours running various areas in the game in the hopes of finding bigger, better things. MFing is discussed in more detail in its relevant section. For now, let’s talk about creating the first character with which you plan to MF and ‘do business’ in the early game.
Like I said, any character can be turned into a magic finder. Two specific builds, however, stand out for their own unique capabilities. The first is the Fishymancer, a type of summoner necromancer that is named after the build’s designer, Nightfish. The Fishymancer maxes the skills Raise Skeleton, Skeleton Mastery, and Corpse Explosion, in that order. What he ends up with is a very durable army of skeletons and a way to clear entire crowds the moment the first monster drops. The second is Sasja’s very well designed dual-elemental sorceress, the Meteorb, so named for her use of the skills Meteor and Frozen Orb. This makes her a versatile character, as her main skills allow her to deal with monsters rapidly and efficiently. See the provided links to read up on the guides.
Now, I know I’m going to get criticized for plugging these guys, but there are very sound reasons for using one or the other for a primary magic finder. First, neither the Fishymancer nor the Meteorb demand very specific equipment to be effective killers. A few plus skills and some resists will be enough to take them through the game. Second, taking away their main combat gear in favor of magic find equipment will not necessarily cripple them. You can put them in perfect topaz-socketed armor and they’ll still rip things to pieces. In other words, the Fishy and the Meteorb are two of the cheapest characters to start out with.
Just some information on the two builds to help make your choice. The Fishymancer very rarely gets hit since he’s constantly surrounded by an army of skeletons. This makes him less reliant on protective gear (i.e., high defense armor, damage reduction, + life, and to an extent, resists). His mix of skills also allows him to kill any, I repeat, any monster in the game, regardless of immunities. However, he kills somewhat more slowly than other characters.
The Meteorb is a walking cannon, what with her huge elemental damage spells. Frozen Orb can single-handedly kill crowds, and Meteor makes short work of larger, meatier targets. A highly synergized Fireball is also very useful as a rapid-fire attack. The availability of Teleport allows her to complete magic find runs at top speed. Like most other sorceresses, however, the Meteorb is very fragile. Accidentally teleporting into a crowd can spell instant death, and not having sufficient resists can be extremely dangerous, especially against Gloams.
Basically, it’s safety versus speed. A Fishy kills slowly but surely, while a Meteorb rips through crowds rapidly, unless the crowds rip through her first.
There is, of course, nothing stopping you from leaping straight into the fray with a build of your choice. If you feel more comfortable going right into the game with a Kicksin, then do so. If your preference leans more towards Frenzybarbs, then hey, go ahead and play one. Just keep in mind their reduced efficiency at magic finding, as most other builds apart from the two initially mentioned suffer greatly when their main combat gear is switched out for magic find equipment. A good compromise would be to play both your favored character and a magic finder, so you can have one working to equip the other.
Everyone knows this, but I’ll keep it short for the benefit of those who may need it. It’s simple. Leave the Rogue Encampment, hit things, pick up gold and blue items, sell, rinse, repeat. There are a few important points to note, though.
This is painfully obvious, but you should always carry around a tome of identify with you, always, in case you want to identify on the go. That way you can chuck out items with useless characteristics to make room for more things before you need to make a trip back to town. It goes without saying, but a tome full of scrolls of town portal, or at least a row in a belt, are invaluable. Also, if you aren’t playing an assassin, a set of keys can come in handy.
Be sure to pick up class-specific items, as these tend to appear with loads of staff mods (pluses to individual skills and such), consequently selling for huge amounts of gold. You’ll want the gold for gambling. Just trust me on this. The best items to pick up for resale are necromancer wands and sorceress orbs, as they take up the least space and carry the best potential for price in terms of inventory space to gold. Necromancer heads, staffs/staves, barbarian helms, druid pelts, and sometimes assassin claws can also be good for selling. Also, be sure to identify items specific to your own character class. You never know when you’ll find something better.
It’s safe to ignore most lower runes and low-quality gems at first, unless you plan to cube them up to better runes and higher-quality gems. Also, chipped gems are ideal for socketing very early in the game. They can add elemental damage when placed in weapons. Chipped rubies and sapphires can add life and mana, respectively, when socketed in armor or helms, and can help out immensely with early game problems.
Pick up every jewel and charm you see. Some of these can spawn with amazing mods and can be traded off. Finally, as Nightfish states in his Fishymancer guide, pick up every flawless gem you find and use the Horadric cube to upgrade them to perfect gems (3 flawless gems of the same kind = 1 perfect gem). Perfect gems can buy you some cheap items from other players, and can be very useful for rerolling charms (see section below).
As a starting player, you naturally won’t have much to work with. Things you pick up or buy from the game’s merchants are typically serviceable until replaced by a better drop or purchase. Remember the gold I was talking about? Well. Here’s where it comes in handy. Working under the assumption that you’ve decided to go with a Fishy or a Meteorb, here are things you will want to acquire, all realistically attainable by Nightmare difficulty:
• A wand, orb, or staff with +3 to the skill tree you use the most. Wands and staves can be bought from the magic vendors (Akara, Drognan, Ormus, Jamella, and Malah). Orbs can’t be bought and are randomly dropped by monsters. Orbs are better by far, since they free up your other hand, allowing you to use a shield for resistances, blocking, or even + skills. Note: necromancers should also look out for heads (class-specific shields) with pluses to Skeleton Mastery and Raise Skeleton.
• An amulet with +3 to your skill tree. These can found while adventuring or gambled from Gheed, Elzix, Alkor, Jamella, Nihlathak, and later, Anya. If you gamble an amulet with pluses to other character skills, keep it anyway. You might decide to make a character with that class later, and it can help you out while you develop him/her. Some players also trade for these. Keep your eyes open.
• A circlet with +3 to your skill tree. Also gambled. This is not absolutely necessary, as circlets are very expensive when gambled. Also, you’ll probably want to free up your helm slot for a magic find helm.
For leveling purposes, just use whatever else you’ve picked up or bought. When going on magic find runs, however, you’ll want to have the following:
• A helm socketed with 3 perfect topazes. Remember what I said about cubing those gems? Yeah. This will give you an easy 72% MF. The earliest three-socket you’ll find should be a crown.
• Armor socketed with 4 perfect topazes. Hello, 96% MF. Delicious. The earliest four-socketed armor you’ll find will be gothic plate. You’ll find a plain socketed one while adventuring, or you can buy a magical one (with the Artisan, Mechanic, or Jeweler prefix) from the vendors.
Congratulations! You now have a setup which gives you plus 6-9 levels to your favorite skills and 96% to 168% MF, all for the low low price of playing the game. Now, what about the rest of your stuff? Honestly, it doesn’t matter, as long as it helps you kill and stay alive. If you can afford additional MF on your gloves, rings, boots, belt, etc, then go right ahead and use it.
I’ll try to make this short and sweet, as there are tons of guides out there that detail everything you need to know about magic finding, Darnoc’s Bnet Magic Find Guide being an excellent example. I won’t be discussing percentages and such, just the basic necessities.
Magic finding, or MFing, is when you go out and hit certain target monsters or areas wearing as much MF equipment as you can afford, killing them, and hoping for excellent item drops. While the 168% mentioned above isn’t optimal (most people believe in at least 300%), it’s a fairly good start for the fledgling MFer. Keep in mind that no amount of magic find will guarantee that the items you want will drop. More magic find only means a better chance to find magic items. The more MF you have, the better the possibility to find magic, rare, set, and unique items from monsters, in that order. Also remember that the more MF gear you wear, the more you compromise your killing speed. Try striking a good balance between high MF and kill speed.
Basically, when a monster is killed, the game calculates for the chance that an item will be magical (blue), rare (yellow), set (green), or unique (gold), with the highest chance for blue and the lowest chance for gold. For more items to drop from monsters, you need to be in a game with more players. In other words, the more people there are in the game, the more items killed monsters will drop. Note that this doesn’t mean that more uniques will automatically drop. It only means that there will be more items for your MF to affect. For more information on magic find percentages, diminishing returns, etc., check this.
Here’s a small list of some of the more popular magic find targets in the game.
Bosses and Superuniques
Nightmare Andariel: while she doesn’t exactly drop great items, NM Andariel is the best target for finding the Stone of Jordan, as she can only drop three of the unique rings (Manald Heal, Nagelring, and the SOJ itself). I wouldn’t recommend her for much else, though. Don’t keep your hopes up. There’s like a 1 in 1650 chance of a Stone dropping or something. It’s entirely possible, but it’ll take some patience.
Nightmare Mephisto: the first guy worth repeatedly running. You’ll get some pretty good equipment from him.
Hell Andariel: again, not quite the best source of drops, but still run constantly for those dedicated to playing full magic find games each time.
Hell Mephisto: here’s where the fun begins. Very good stuff, including end-game items like the Harlequin Crest (or Shako) and Verdungo’s Hearty Cord.
Hell Eldritch and Shenk: famous for being so close to each other, that is, smack north and south of the Frigid Highlands waypoint, respectively. Good for some decent items.
Hell Pindleskin: found right through the portal Anya opens for the Nihlathak quest. Kill everything here, repeatedly, if necessary. Pindleskin himself hates me and hardly drops anything, but one of the normal, non-minion monsters in his garden once dropped me Skullder’s Ire. Very nice.
Hell Baal: the Man. He can drop anything in the game. Yes. Run him. Now.
Level 85 Areas
These are places where the Unique bosses, Champions, minions, and monsters have very high treasure class levels, meaning they can drop many of the best items in the game. They’re also great places for leveling.
Act 1: The Mausoleum: one of the two crypts in the Burial Grounds where Blood Raven is found.
Act 1: The Pits: located in the Tamoe Highlands. Take the Outer Cloister waypoint and follow the road.
Act 2: Maggot Lair level 3: not a very popular place, for very obvious reasons.
Act 2: Ancient Tunnels: found under a trap door in the Lost City.
Act 3: Durance of Hate: again a great area. Don’t just ignore everyone and head straight for Mephisto. Kill everything for best results.
Act 4: River of Flame: this has its own waypoint. It’s been suggested that the City of the Damned is a better starting waypoint for this, since you can take the stairs down and start from the very beginning of the River.
Act 5: Worldstone Keep level 2 and 3: and all the way up to the Throne of Destruction and the Worldstone Chamber. That’s a long way down, and Baal is smack at the end of it, making for another great MF target. Nightfish has an excellent detailed guide on running the WSK here.
There are other great places and targets for magic find runs. Again, check this thread for more information.
Muling is defined as the transfer of items between your current character and a backup character created for the purpose of storage. It’ll be useful to have a couple of mules lying around to help keep items you won’t be using immediately, or stuff that you plan to trade. Make sure to play with or at least leave your mules sitting in the Rogue Encampment for a total of two hours (split up or continuous) to perm them. You don’t want them expiring and taking all your hard-earned goodies with them. Some people also use characters that they no longer play with as mules.
There are two kinds of muling. The first method involves a friend you trust. Just create a Normal private game, have him join it, and ask him to sit in it for a bit while you switch characters to transfer things. Of course, you’ll need to find a friend first. Not a problem, as you’ll eventually meet trustworthy people as you play the game. Just make sure you know them well enough before you even think about asking them to help with your transfers (also known as xfers, just so you know).
Self-muling is a little dangerous because you constantly have the risk of item loss hovering about you. It’s the only way to transfer stuff solo otherwise, however, and if done properly and with a good deal of care and attention, you’ll be pretty much okay.
To self-mule, create a Normal difficulty game with a password. This is to make sure that your level 1 mules can join the game and pick up the items you plan to mule. Okay, now leave the game running for at least five minutes. Go watch TV, beat up some monsters, whatever, as long as you clear five minutes. After that, save and exit, then rejoin the game with the same character. If you get in, that means the game is temporarily ‘permed’, which means it will stay up for about five minutes with no one in the game. Only start dropping items on the ground at this point!
You can now switch characters repeatedly to transfer items. Take note of a couple of things, though. If you switch characters too quickly (i.e. join and leave the game too fast), you’ll get a realm down. Your IP address will be temporarily banned for 5 to 15 minutes, and you won’t be able to log in to the realm. As you can see, this spells instant death for any items you may have left on the ground. As such, it is advisable to transfer items in small doses, that is, between as few characters as possible, and to stay in the game for about 30 seconds between each mule switch you make.
Building Your Wealth
Here’s the fun part.
It’s funny how gold is the game’s official currency when you can’t trade it for a Biggin’s Bonnet. Some people will want gold for their stuff on occasion, though. They’re most likely gamblers, and would rather receive big chunks of gold in return for items than play the game to earn it.
As I mentioned in the first part, some of the best items to sell to the vendors are class-specific items, as these can spawn with a huge number of mods that will make them worth plenty of gold (up to 35,000 per item). Armor is also usually good for this. When you first start out the game, pick up keys, chipped gems, and the throwing potions (strangling gas, fulminating, etc.). These are, surprisingly enough, worth decent gold for taking up so little space.
When your stash is filled to exploding, go burn some of that gold on gambling, preferably amulets and circlets. There are some very interesting possibilities for these. Both can spawn with + to skills, resistances, bonuses to life, mana, or stats, magic find, faster cast rate, and even charges of spells, such as Teleport. Rare circlets can also receive up to two open sockets and the faster run/walk mod. Many players will favor very good rares over uniques, sets, and runewords, if they have the right mods on them. Get a general consensus on a rare that you think might be good from friends and the trading forums. You just might be holding something expensive.
A note about gambling, though. If you use a mercenary, make sure you leave yourself just enough gold to resurrect him or her. You don’t want him dying right when you’re totally broke.
Ah, the base currency for Ladder play. If you’ve cubed the flawless gems you’ve been finding to perfect, you’ll find that you have a tidy little amount of base capital to work with. You can use these to trade for cheap but effective items, generally low-level uniques and set items. Prices vary depending on the realm, but even pieces from the top class-specific item sets (e.g., Trang-Oul’s Avatar, Tal Rasha’s Wrappings, M’avina’s Battle Hymn, etc.) can go for a handful of gems.
Some players also purchase gems in bulk with runes. On Ladder West, for example, Puls are worth 40 p gems, while Lems go for approximately 20. These players are grand charm rerollers. See the next section for more information.
A very nice way of building a stash of gems is by going chest-popping in Lower Kurast, an activity that’s generally more lucrative in higher difficulties and bigger multi-player games. It’s best to use a sorceress for this, so you can avoid monsters, teleport between huts, and use telekinesis to pop chests, logs, stashes, corpses, and baskets that are on screen. You’ll also find some runes, charms, and decent items by doing this. I almost had a heart attack when Atma’s Wail dropped from a basket. So it’s not a top item, but still, the thought of unique armor dropping from a basket of all things, and how said unique armor fit in the basket in the first place, truly surprised me. Full credit goes out to Twelvebagger for first pointing this out to me.
So tiny, yet so effective. As you well know, you receive benefits from charms by keeping them in your inventory. Note that keeping a Horadric cube filled with charms in your inventory won’t give you the bonuses from those charms.
It’s a good idea to pick up all charms you find because you’ll never know what you’re going to get. Some of the most popular small charms have +20 life, up to 11% resistance to any one element, resistances to all elements, and/or 7% magic find. These charms are very, very tradable. Keep them for their terrific benefits, or trade them off and jumpstart your trove.
Grand charms are favored for magical mods like +100 or so to attack rating, 12% faster hit recovery, and +40-45 life. They are usually preferred, however, with the most wonderful of mods, the skill tab pluses. This is why people buy perfect gems in bulk. By placing any magical item in the Horadric cube with three perfect gems and hitting transmute, you’ll ‘reroll’ the item and receive a new set of mods. As you might guess, rerolling grand charms is risky business, since there are so many possibilities that it is not very likely you’ll roll exactly what you were looking for. But these things sell very well at very good prices, so people just, pardon the pun, keep on rolling.
If you plan on getting into the GC skilling business, you’ll need, naturally, a healthy supply of gems and a nice base grand charm to work from. The + skill tab mods spawn on grand charms that have an item level of 50, the bulk of which are dropped in the Great Marsh and Flayer Jungle on Nightmare difficulty. If you want to stand a chance at rolling a +1 skill tab/+45 life grand charm, possibly the most expensive permutation available, you’ll need what is called a Baal GC, or a grand charm dropped by Hell Diablo, Nihlathak, or Baal. This grand charm can spawn any of the possible mods, which means that you’ll have to do a hell of a lot of rolling. It’s your choice.
Skiller grand charms generally go for good prices. The most expensive of the plain grand charms is the Paladin Combat Skill grand charm, owing to the popularity of Hammerdins. These are typically followed by Trap, Lightning, Fire, Cold, and Javelin grand charms. Necromancer Summoning and Poison and Bone charms lie somewhere in the mid-range, along with most of the other skill tabs. Paladin Defensive Aura and Necromancer Curse charms are the most worthless pieces of garbage you will ever have the misfortune to roll, unless you happen to find Clerics and Mojomancers hungry for more + skills. Good luck on that.
Large charms can be good as well, but they’re generally not traded. As a final note, you might consider holding on to any plain + strength charms you can find, as they are invaluable for outfitting your new characters in the early levels. A tidy assortment of low-level charms and jewelry can, for example, ensure that a sorceress can actually wear Sigon’s Complete Steel at level six, which is otherwise impossible because she can only have 35 strength by then. Just a suggestion. The game’s three unique charms are discussed in the relevant section far below.
An interesting group of items. These can come with a variety of characteristics, some of the more popular being bonuses to all resistances, increased attack speed, additional minimum and maximum damage, and enhanced damage. One or more of these can occur on the same jewel, and rare jewels can potentially have a greater number of prefixes and suffixes. There is also a set of unique jewels prized by characters that kill with elemental damage, called Facets. These typically trade for good things, especially ones that have near-perfect stats (the maximum being +5% damage and –5% monster resistance). Pick up every jewel and identify it, you’ll never know what you’ll get. Some players also buy common, less powerful jewels (called junk jewels) in bulk for crafting. It might be worth to collect some on a mule, or to simply chuck away useless ones and only keep nice, decent jewels you’ll use or trade.
The one thing you need to remember about Unique items is that their being unique does not automatically make them awesome, useful, or expensive. Nobody will buy your Bing Sz Wang. No one.
It takes a little amount of time playing the game, interacting with other players, and surfing to figure out which items are the best and most highly tradable. If you want to find a shortcut to the absolute best, check out the many excellent guides to character builds in the forums and look for the equipment list. Over and over you will see how the Herald of Zakarum (Hoz), Harlequin Crest (Shako), Arachnid Mesh (Spider), Oculus (Occy), Stone of Jordan (Soj), and many, many other items are the most frequently mentioned, simply because they are the most effective. You’ll also notice that many will have their own nicknames, such as the ones provided in parentheses above.
The only way to find uniques, of course, is by MFing. Yes, it’s hard work, and you’ll find more Bing Sz Wang’s than you can shake a fist at. But you’ll likely find other neat things as well, and life gets just a little sweeter when that first gold, unidentified Shako finally drops for you. Uniques first come in their normal low-level versions. You’ll eventually see exceptional and elite uniques as you progress through the game.
Of the normal uniques, a few are worth mentioning. The Ravenclaw Long Bow is favored for any character who has just turned level 15, as it is a very, very powerful weapon in the early game. The gloves Chance Guards, Magefist, and Frostburn are all favorites for different reasons, and often make their way into a player’s end game list of equipment. Tarnhelms, the unique skull cap, is very good for such surprisingly low requirements, offering +1 to skills and up to 50% magic find. Goldwrap is an old magic finder’s staple, and is best used when upgraded with the Horadric cube recipe to bring its total potion capacity to 16 (recipe: Tal + Shael + Perfect Diamond + unique normal armor).
There are other excellent normal uniques. Time, gameplay, and research will teach you about the ones worth keeping. Check the Arreat Summit for a full list of all the items in the game. Helpful links are located at the very top of that page.
A very interesting group of items, and quite effective if used properly. Most set items are tradable, and entire sets go for very good prices. It does take a little effort to actually find whole sets, but you can always buy a piece here and a piece there to complete it. You could, of course, just sell stuff piece by piece.
Some of the most popular item sets are the high-level class-specific ones, introduced as equipment packages for the player who doesn’t like to fuss and tweak his gear too much. Some sets are more popular than the others. Tal Rasha’s Wrappings and the Immortal King, for sorcs and barbarians, respectively, are undoubtedly the most heavily traded. Natalya’s Odium (assassins), Trang-Oul’s Avatar (necromancers), and M’avina’s Battle Hymn (amazons) are next. Griswold’s Legacy and Aldur’s Watchtower for the paladin and druid are the least popular, which isn’t to say that they aren’t effective.
Pieces in a set will go for varying prices depending on their rarity. For example, it is much easier to find Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest (helm) or Tal Rasha’s Fine-spun Cloth (belt) than it is to find the amulet or armor through MFing. As such, completing an item set will still take something of an effort, but not one as heavily taxing as an equipment setup involving primarily uniques.
Some low-level set items to look out for include the entire Sigon’s set (Sigon’s Complete Steel) and the jewelry from Angelic Raiment and Cathan’s Traps. Sigon’s Complete Steel is a favorite for any character class for the incredible bonuses it provides: 30% increased attack speed, good resistances, +1 to all skills, 30% faster run/walk, 10% life leech, a healthy bonus to attack rating, and much more. And it’s usable at level 6. The only problem is its strength requirement, which can be remedied by the use of a number of low level requirement strength charms. It isn’t uncommon to enter a Tristram run game and find yourself surrounded by characters wearing the entire set. It’s just that good. The Angelic Wings amulet and Angelic Halo ring together provide 12 attack rating per character level, a nice boost for any melee character, especially if you throw in another ring. Cathan’s Seal is useful for the 6% life leech it provides at a very low level requirement. There are many more excellent low-level set items worth keeping and trading, mind you. These are just a few examples.
This family of items can appear with a great number of very useful characteristics. Many are good enough to be considered as equipment for the entire game, until, of course, you find something more useful. Depending on the type of rare (armor, glove, belt, etc.), you’ll get a different mixed bag of mods. Some of the better ones give impressive boosts to resistances, mana, life, strength, dexterity, and more. Circlets, amulets, and rings are of particular mention, because they can spawn with very, very good mods that are important for different kinds of characters. Faster cast rate, resistance, additional life or mana, magic find, and other nice mods can appear on these, and many players will pay well for a good rare that has a bundle of powerful statistics. Rings can also give bonuses to attack rating and fair amounts of life and mana leech. Be sure to ask around for a proper price before you trade something off. Other rare equipment, such as armor, boots, belts, and such, are very rarely traded, however, as in most cases, uniques, set items, and runewords are more effective.
Socketables and White Items
Socketed items appear with a random number of sockets in them, the number depending on the monster that drops it and on the item’s maximum number of sockets. These are useful in the early game for making effective weapons and armor, and are generally valued for their use in making runewords. For more information on runes and runewords, see the sections on them below. Take note that runewords can only be made in socketed items and superior socketed items, not magical, rare, set, or unique items with sockets in them.
Players will trade socketed items to make runewords out of, and will typically use the item’s defense or damage values to gauge its worth. In most cases, people will want the elite version of an item, as these stand to have the best defense and damage out of all socketed items. Many factors will still come into play regarding a player’s choice of socketable. Three-socket dusk shrouds, for example, are a popular choice for the Enigma runeword, as they have the lowest strength requirements of all the elite armors (77). Some players, however, prefer to make characters with base strength, and will opt for an Enigma made out of a three-socket breast plate. Yes, it takes all kinds to make a world. Melee-type runewords, however, such as Duress, will often find their way into armor with greater defense. A general rule to follow is this: caster-type characters prefer items with low requirements (e.g. a flail for Heart of the Oak), while melee-type characters prefer items with the best possible damage and defense (e.g. hellforge armor for Chains of Honor).
White items are just that, items that are non-magical and that have no sockets in them. These are occasionally traded for by players who want to do the socketing themselves. To add sockets to an item, either use the appropriate Horadric cube recipe, or take it to Larzuk in Act 5. You might actually not want to waste his reward on a white item, though, as you’ll probably want to socket a unique or set item with it instead. Note that the cube recipe will add a random number of sockets to the item, so you can have a number that falls between the minimum and maximum for it (1 and 6, respectively, for many of the elite larger weapons).
The following recipes are taken from the Arreat Summit:
- 1 Tal + 1 Thul + 1 perfect topaz + normal body armor = socketed body armor
- 1 Ral + 1 Amn + 1 perfect amethyst + normal weapon = socketed weapon
- 1 Ral + 1 Thul + 1 perfect sapphire + normal helm = socketed helm
- 1 Tal + 1 Amn + 1 perfect ruby + normal shield = socketed shield
Take note that the number of sockets an item can have depends on its type and the level of the monster that drops it. Generally, white items dropped in Hell will have better chances of having more sockets. Remember this for when buyers ask you where the item was found. A good way to find whites and socketables is to strip yourself of all MF equipment. That way only normal items will appear. Popular places for farming these include the Chaos Sanctuary and the Pits.
Many new players will immediately assume that ethereal items are useless. This is not necessarily the case. Ethereal items commonly have increased damage (for weapons) and defense (for armor), and typically have lower requirements for strength and dexterity than their normal counterparts. Mercenaries can use any ethereal item without breaking it, which explains why some ethereal uniques sell well. Ethereal socketed items are especially popular for their use in making powerful runewords for mercenaries, and in some cases, characters as well, as some runewords make an item indestructible, or will repair the item’s durability over time. Socketing an item with a Zod will also make it indestructible, but this is usually reserved for particularly valuable equipment, since, well, Zods really aren’t a dime a dozen.
Take a look at the runewords to see which ones are good to make in ethereal items. Don’t let the fact that something is ethereal put you off, as, oftentimes, someone out there will have a use for it.
This is a rather more complex aspect of Diablo II economy. Runes will go for different prices on different realms. The best thing to do would be to check your relevant realm on the trading forums here for current prices, or to browse trading games for current rates.
As you well know, runes are extremely valued for their use in making runewords, powerful magical items that are created with a number of specific runes and a plain, socketed item. They are also valued for their use in Horadric cube recipes, most notably upgrading uniques and rares to their exceptional and elite versions, and for crafting items. This has turned Rals and a select group of other runes into something of an informal currency, used by crafters in their trade lists.
The most reliable sources of runes in the game are the Countess and the Hellforge quest in Act IV. They offer the best rewards in Hell difficulty, in that the Countess can drop up to an Ist, and the forge can drop up to a Gul rune. There’s no way to control what rune drops, of course, which is why Hellforge rushing and Countess runs are so popular.
There isn’t any one area in the game that is optimal for rune-hunting. The hardest runes to find are in the highest bracket, meaning everything from Vex up to Zod. There are very small chances of these dropping, and a legit player’s best chances at making powerful runewords is by cubing runes all the way up to the one they need, or trading for them. This is where it gets complicated. (Note: a good guide on hunting for runes by Urlik_Skarsol can be found here. It is, however, more geared towards Single Players, as it makes use of the /playersx command. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this guide.)
Many of the high runes (or HRs) are player-generated, or duped. This means that they aren’t legit. It also means that there is a chance that they will simply disappear from your inventory, or in some cases, from your runeword entirely. There is no way to tell whether a particular rune is a dupe, however, and you really have little choice but to take your chances with them. People will offer many solutions to rune ‘poofing’, but I have not seen any effective methods of making these items ‘permanent’, nor do I see the point in doing so, as they will eventually disappear anyway. It’s just one of those things we have to live with on Bnet. It’s up to you whether or not you want to deal in HRs.
Just for reference, it has been recently noted that the majority of all high runes, Ists, and now, even Ums are duped. Be careful, and try not to let this ruin your enjoyment of the game. Click here for a full list of the runes and their properties, ranging from the most common to the rarest.
Ah. Some of the best items in the game. A runeword (or RW) is made in an item with the correct number of sockets and with the runes placed in it in the right order. A socketed item must be plain, meaning non-magical. Its name on the ground and in your inventory should be in grey. An item that already has bonuses on it, say, sorceress staves or necromancer heads, will retain those mods after the runeword is completed. For example, the runeword Lore must be made in a helm… any helm… with two sockets, with the runes Ort and Sol. These include class-specific barbarian helms and pelts, so you could effectively make a Lore out of a plain helm or pelt that already has pluses to individual skills. You may use superior and ethereal items to make runewords. For a full list of runewords and their properties, check here. Please take note of which runewords work in what patches and game environments (e.g., single player, ladder, non-ladder, etc.).
Many of the best runewords require the use of high runes. As discussed, it is up to you whether or not you’ll want to invest in these. They are, admittedly, extremely powerful tools. Not all the good runewords are made out of expensive runes, however.
A low level favorite for melee characters is Strength, a runeword made in any two-socket melee weapon with the runes Amn and Tir. The 25% crushing blow and 7% life leech are very serviceable until you find something better to fight with. Insight is a ladder-only runeword, and is one of the most popular cheaper ones. By putting Ral, Tir, Tal, and Sol in a four-socket polearm, you will receive an excellent weapon with many mods, the best of which is the Meditation Aura, which passively provides you monstrous mana regeneration, allowing you to cast high-cost spells as much as you like. Many players give Insight to their Act 2 mercenaries to free up their own main weapon slots.
Another favorite, especially for caster-type characters, is Spirit, a runeword which gives many great bonuses, which include +2 to all skills, 25%-35% faster cast rate, a large boost to mana, and good resistances when made in a shield. Spirit is made using the runes Tal, Thul, Ort, and Amn in four-socketed swords and shields. It’s best to use a broad sword to make a Spirit weapon, since you won’t actually use it for hitting things and it has the lowest requirements of all the swords. Unfortunately, non-paladins can only make Spirit in a monarch shield, which needs a whopping 156 strength to carry. It is, however, one of the best shields a caster can have, so the investment in strength is well worth it. There are many more great runewords for you to use. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones to fit your character’s needs.
A runeword’s worth typically takes into account the actual runes used to make it and the item in which they are socketed. A runeword can also be more or less expensive depending on how good the variable mods on it are. For example, Heart of the Oak can have between 30% and 40% bonuses to all resistances. A 39% HOTO will, as such, cost more than a 32%. Check around for prices on the forums.
Keys and Organs
The Uber Tristram world event requires at least three sets of special keys to activate. These keys are found from Act 1’s Countess, Act 2’s Summoner, and Act 3’s Nihlathak in Hell difficulty. They drop the Key of Terror, Key of Hate, and Key of Destruction, respectively. It is possible to receive more than one key in a single drop. Cubing an entire keyset in Hell Act 5 will open one of three portals to uber-versions of Andariel (Lilith), Duriel, and Izual, who will then drop organs as rewards: Diablo’s Horn, Baal’s Eye, and Mephisto’s Brain. These can then be cubed to open the portal to Uber Tristram, a hellish version of Tristram which contains super-powered versions of the Three Brothers and an endless torrent of minions.
Keys are very tradable, particularly as entire sets, as people are always looking to collect organs, either to keep for the eventual trip to Uber Tristram, or to trade again. Note that Keys of Hate are slightly more expensive than Keys of Terror, and Keys of Destruction are again slightly pricier than the other two, but this isn’t noticeable unless you’re trading keys for other keys (for example, US West has people trading two Terror Keys for one Destruction Key). Organs are typically worth the same thing, so it’s fair to trade an Eye for a Horn, for example.
The Countess is a favorite target for key running for two reasons. Her Tower is easily navigated, with maps that can be easily predicted after a few tries, and her drops can include runes all the way up to Ist. Certainly worth the time and effort.
The Summoner is a bit more of a pain, as he is found at the end of one of the four branches of the Arcane Sanctuary. There’s no way to tell where to go. The payoff is the fact that he is ridiculously easy to kill, but still, the time it takes to find him chips at one’s patience.
Nihlathak is the least favorite target for key runners, but also the most lucrative. Since fewer players run him, fewer Keys of Destruction float around the market, hence upping their price slightly. The major problem with Nihlathak is his incredibly annoying and powerful Corpse Explosion. Unfortunately, chilling his monsters is not a guarantee that they will shatter upon death, rendering their corpses useless.
A more reliable method is to equip a Nature’s Peace ring or a weapon made into a Lawbringer runeword, both of which have the Slain Monsters Rest in Peace mod, which does exactly what it says: all corpses of monsters you kill cannot be used for anything. Raise Skeleton, Death Sentry, Grim Ward, Corpse Explosion, and other corpse-reliant skills are made useless. Lawbringer is much cheaper by far, and is best made in a three-socket sword with the runes Amn + Lem + Ko. There is an excellent guide on Destruction Key running by Cyber Dragon here, which unravels the mystery of the maps of the Halls of Pain, and points out the right direction to follow in the Halls of Vaught every single time.
This is all incredibly fun, but also incredibly complex. Unique charms are unique in the truest sense of the word, as a character can only hold one in his inventory at a time: one Gheed’s Fortune, one Hellfire Torch, and one Annihilus. Note that none of the unique charms can be placed in the trade window, so you will never know if the guy trading you is telling the absolute truth about its statistics. Also, they are very risky to trade, because the other guy can just run over to pick up your charm after he’s picked up what he was supposed to give and exit the game, leaving you barefoot and pregnant. Ahem.
So, number one, never trade for the unique charms through trade games that you’ll randomly find on Battle.net. Visit our resident trade forums and look for someone with a high post count to trade with. This is still not any assurance of a smooth, clean trade, as we recently learned on US West when a previously honest, reliable trader made off with another trader’s hard-earned high runes. Number two, make sure to ask a forum moderator to help you trade at a pre-arranged time in a pre-arranged passworded game, or perhaps ask for help from a trusted friend. It is truly unfortunate how the unique charms are completely untradable otherwise, but such is the way of things.
Gheed’s Fortune: it makes me think that Blizzard isn’t an entirely heartless mega-corporation when they honor the scum-sucking, rogue-swindling Act I gambler with his own unique. Anyway, Gheed’s Fortune grand charms are staples in any dedicated MFer’s inventory, particularly ones that are perfect or near-perfect, meaning they have an MF percentage close to the 40% maximum mark. These also provide a nice boost to gold find, and some gold finders will pay well for a Gheed’s that has perfect gold find, but not MF. These drop randomly from monsters as you MF. I don’t have information about the best monsters to run for Gheed’s, but I’ll be sure to include it as soon as I find out.
Annihilus: so small, yet so powerful, these babies provide excellent bonuses to all statistics, all resistances, +1 to all skills, and 5% to 10% bonus to experience (!). And they’re small charms. Imagine that. These are dropped by the elusive Diablo Clone, also known as DClone. He is near impossible to find if you don’t have some elaborate system involving IP addresses and servers set up, but when he does appear, you’ll be sorely disappointed in terms of challenge, because the guy is terribly easy to kill. Check this guide by Hoarshade for detailed instructions on how to find Diablo Clone.
Anyway, when you’re on the right server, the message “xxx Stones of Jordan have been sold to merchants” will appear. This means that there is a bunch of people somewhere on that server rapidly selling off non-ladder SOJs. There is some debate on whether this actually has any effect on DClone’s appearance, but you don’t care, really, because you’re just there to beat the ever-loving crap out of him and take his goods. The message will appear again, and when the frequency ups, be prepared to visit a friendly neighborhood Super Unique monster. This means any specially-named monster that is always in the same spot in every game you create or enter, i.e., Pindleskin, Witch Doctor Endungu, the Dark Elder, Coldcrow, etc. Soon, the message “Diablo Walks This Earth” will appear, and your screen will start shaking in a very annoying manner, in the same way it does when you hit the fifth seal in the Chaos Sanctuary. Head over to the nearest Super Unique, and you will have found DClone.
There are a couple of favorite targets for DClone spawning. One is Rakanishu in the Stony Field, because he’s in Act 1 and is typically surrounded by monsters that won’t be so annoying to deal with. Another is the Den of Evil’s Corpsefire, because it’s relatively small and is again filled by easy to kill monsters. In public games (which you should never, ever join for DClone-hunting because of third-party programs that can snatch the Annihilus no matter who kills DClone), Radament in Sewer level 3 is a favorite, because hardly anyone else ever thinks to target him. I can’t remember where I read about this, but the easiest target is apparently Eldritch, just north of the Act 5 Frigid Highlands waypoint. Spawn him, then lead him down to Shenk the Overseer. Concentrate your efforts on Shenk. Remember how all monsters around Shenk immediately die as soon as he falls himself? Apparently, DClone is counted as one of said monsters. I haven’t tried this myself, but I probably wouldn’t do it, because it would rob something so simple of any challenge whatsoever.
Phew. So, with all that said, good luck hunting DClone, and enjoy the sweet Annihilus.
Hellfire Torch: truly the most quest-like of the World Events, considering the number of ‘quest items’ you have to obtain to activate it. The Hellfire Torch large charm provides, again, great boosts to resistances, statistics, and +3 (!!!) to all skills. But before you get all hot and bothered, note that the Torch is semi class-specific. This means that any character can equip any Torch, but only a character of the right class will benefit from the boost to skills. You won’t know what class the Torch favors until you identify it. The Hellfire Torch also provides + to light radius (I mean, it’s a Torch, right), has 10 charges of Hydra on it, and a 25% chance to cast Firestorm on attack… not the druid skill, but Diablo’s super-scary fire stream spell.
So here’s how it works, in case you skipped the section on keys. You run Hell difficulty Countess, Summoner, and Nihlathak, of Acts 1, 2, and 5, for the Keys of Terror, Hate, and Destruction. Once you have all three, you put them in the Horadric cube and hit transmute while standing in Act 5 Hell. This will open a portal to one of three places: the Matron’s Den, the Forgotten Dunes, or the Furnace of Pain. Inside the portal will be waiting a stronger version of Andariel (Lilith), Duriel, and Izual. Each of these will drop an organ, either Diablo’s Horn, Baal’s Eye, or Mephisto’s Brain. Once all three organs are placed in the cube and transmuted, a portal to Tristram will open. This isn’t the old Tristram. It’s got a few changes, which include an unending horde of monsters and super-charged versions of the Three Brothers. They will drop a Torch, and another small charm, the Standard of Heroes, which really does absolutely nothing. Some say it’s just for bragging rights, while others say that future patches may turn it into something good. Believe what you will, but pick up the damn Torch.
I won’t tell you how to deal with Uber Trist because there are tons of guides out there to help you. This one by C Squad is a good example. I’m told that with the right characters, it can be a cinch. As you probably noticed, you’ll need at least three keysets to make it to Uber Tristram in the first place, assuming all three initial portals open to the right level. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from just trading for the organs to begin with. Have fun dealing with the Three, and give Mephisto a nice kick in the you-know-whats for me.
Trading on Battle.net is fairly simple. You join a trading game (which you can usually tell by the game’s name), click on the player with whom you want to trade, and wait for him to agree to trade with you. You then place your trade items in your respective windows and click on the check button when ready. Once both buttons turn green, the trade is completed, and you are both free to enjoy your new goods.
This process is typically used for items you want to quickly trade on Battle.net. Make good use of the little space you have in naming a game to create a trade game. For example, if you’re looking for a Harlequin Crest, you can enter ‘bring shako’ and wait for a trader to come along and find you. Obviously, this works the other way, so you can sit in the join window and wait for a good trade game for you to enter to appear. When the word ‘script’ appears, this means that the trader wants you to read his game’s description for details on what he has or what he needs. If you have to trade something in a similar way, use the description field of the create game window appropriately. Note that most people make and join trade games in Hell difficulty.
The trade window that appears when you agree to trade with another player is the exact same size as your inventory. You can, as such, hypothetically trade up to 40 squares worth of items in total. Be sure you have enough space in your inventory to complete the trade when you do this. Be warned that none of the unique charms (Gheed’s Fortune, the Hellfire Torch, and the Annihilus) can be placed in the trade window. You can only trade these by dropping them on the ground. This is very risky business, literally.
If you’re interested in shopping for your items online, check out Diabloii.net’s list of trading forums. These are populated by hundreds of people who trade briskly on a daily basis, and will provide a place for you to advertise your goods. Remember to indicate whether you are trading for Ladder or Non-ladder items in your post’s title (usually including the tags [L] or [NL] are good enough). If you want to buy something, post a reply to another user and make a bid for one of their items. Try to conform to what they’re looking for when stating your proposed price. Some players prefer runes, while others take gems. Still others believe in trading item for item. When you both come to an agreement, you can work out a time to complete the trade. Take down the other player’s Battle.net account name and whisper them at the predetermined time. Note that Battle.net’s font can be deceiving, and many people have been scammed out of their items by players posing as reputable traders. Make sure to confirm another trader’s identity before starting the trade.
Yes, scamming is rampant, because there are too many greedy people who would rather cheat others out of their hard-earned wealth than reap it on their own. A common scam involves replacing an item in the trade window with something that looks like it before hitting the check button. For example, you’re trading for a Shako. You hover your cursor over the other guy’s Shako and find that it is, indeed, a Harlequin Crest. He may suddenly exit the trade window and reengage you, or you’ll notice him taking the item out and placing it back in. This usually means that the item has been replaced. The Crest’s inventory graphic is that of a green leather cap. Be sure to double check before you click the check button, or you may end up with a very fetching emerald-socketed cap for your trouble. This guide by Darnoc details a number of other popular scams. Be sure to read it before you start trading!
If you want to trade Hellfire Torches or Annis, you’d best get the help of a forum moderator, who will enter the game with you and the other trader to monitor the exchange. No one is responsible but you for losing a unique charm to a scammer. Again, never, ever trade unique charms in public games. That’s a sure way to get poor incredibly fast.
Just a few quick tips on trading before I end this section.
Be reasonable and knowledgeable about the items you want to trade. Research its stats, ask friends about prices, and have its price checked in the appropriate forums. This is to make sure that you don’t offend someone by offering a Thul for their Mara’s Kaleidoscope, or worse, that you don’t sell your Arachnid Mesh for a handful of gems. This is easier than it sounds, actually. A couple of days of playing and browsing games and forums will quickly give you an idea of what items are usually worth. Take note again that different stats on an item can result in different prices.
Always use the trade window. Always. There is no reason to drop items on the ground when you can place them in the secure trade window. Anyone can just run over and pick up your stuff and quickly hit save and exit. Don’t be an idiot.
Only complete drop trades in private games. You don’t want to drop a Torch and suddenly have someone running out of the bushes to grab it. This is very common sense advice here. I shouldn’t need to tell you this.
Try not to trade an item for another item of the same worth when you expected a rune or some gems to begin with. This extends the selling process. Fine, you got rid of the first item, but how long until you can sell the one the other guy just pawned off on you? The exception, of course, is when you actually want it.
While a forum user’s post count is a good indication of how long he’s been around, it’s not necessarily a good indication of how trustworthy he can be. This is no attempt to blacklist any of the older forumers; it’s just that USWest had a recent kerfuffle over an old trader suddenly turned scammer. We’re still bothered by it. Anyway, by hanging out on the forums, you can easily learn about the most reliable and honest traders. They’re the ones with the posts that last 10 pages, filled with thank yous and praises from people they’ve completed exchanges with.
Hold out long enough for your target trade, but don’t expect too much. You don’t want to let go of your item for less than what it’s worth, but you can’t expect to hold it for too long and eventually find someone who’ll pay double for it. Know what to expect. If you get more than what you wanted, congratulations. Also, don’t expect the world for your item. Be sure you know what it’s worth. I’ve had far too many nasty brushes with players wanting high runes for their Angelic amulets.
Keep these in mind, and remember to be careful and aware of what you’re doing. Trading is the best way for you to acquire what you want, and done properly, can take your characters very far.
As you may have gleaned from the earlier parts of this guide, there are very many ways to build wealth apart from simply magic finding. After a bit of experience playing the game, you might be interested in going on one of the following career paths, or even a combination of them. Note that you’ll need a decently mid- to high-level character to be successful at some of these, in terms of kill speed and efficiency. Don’t think about this as detrimental to your success. Just play the game and enjoy yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be powerful enough to take anything on. The stuff you pick up along the way is just gravy.
Self-explanatory. As I’ve said, any character can be turned into an MFer, but some of the most effective ones will include hammerdins and sorceresses, hands down, for their unrivalled speed and crowd-killing power.
Gamblers will either trade items for sums of gold or go on gold finding trips themselves by equipping items with the x % Extra Gold from Monsters mod. Such items include Goldwrap, Chance Guards, Goldskin, Gheed’s Fortune, and the Rhyme runeword. The best source of gold is the Hell difficulty Council, up by the Compelling Orb after the Travincal waypoint in Act III. These guys drop gold in four to five digit amounts, sums that can be immensely compounded with the aforementioned items. Said gold is then gambled for powerful rare amulets and circlets at the game’s gambling merchants. A higher-level character is preferable for this route, as higher-level characters can store more gold in their stashes and inventories. A character can carry 10,000 gold in his inventory per level, up to a maximum of 990,000 gold at level 99. The stash can hold up to a maximum of 2,500,000 gold at level 99.
A different kind of gambler, as it takes a lot of perfect gems to come up with something saleable. I discussed this at length in the charms section above. To summarize, pick up a grand charm from the Great Marsh and Flayer Jungle in Nightmare difficulty and cube it with three perfect gems. To make grand charms that can potentially have both + skills and the 45 life mod, look for a grand charm from Hell Baal, Diablo, or Nihlathak.
A very, very brave bunch of toasters, these people. What they do is collect specific runes, jewels, and perfect gems for the purpose of crafting, a Horadric cube process which can make items with useful preset mods and a number of other potentially powerful ones. Full recipes can be found here. The full formulae and statistics for the relationship between clevel and ilevel (character level and item level) are also listed here. This is some pretty risky business, as again, you never know what you’ll get. I wouldn’t recommend this career to the lack-capital and impoverished. I personally don’t have the patience for crafting, but I do have great respect for the hallowed few who follow this difficult path.
These players use fast teleporting characters to rush low-level players through entire game difficulties. I won’t detail the process here, but suffice to say, a good rusher can take you from Normal to just before Nightmare (the Worldstone Keep) in ten to fifteen minutes or less. Rushers expect the rune dropped from your Act IV Hellforge quest as payment. Don’t be rude and grab it before they can. Be warned, however, that some rushers have nasty streaks, and will leave the game as soon as they’ve obtained their rune, leaving you stranded in Act IV. If you plan to become a rusher, don’t be as nasty. A note on this. It’s best to rush people in Hell difficulty as the forge can drop better runes, as high as Gul. It’s a little harder because of the tougher monsters, naturally, but very doable.
A nice business on its own, as keysets go for decent sums. The targets for these special items are Act 1’s Countess, Act 2’s Summoner, and Act 5’s Nihlathak in Hell difficulty, who drop the Key of Terror, Key of Hate, and Key of Destruction, respectively. It is possible to receive more than one key in a single drop. As I said in the section on unique charms, cubing an entire keyset in Hell Act V will open one of three portals to uber-versions of Andariel (Lilith), Duriel, and Izual, who will drop organs, which can then be cubed to open the portal to Uber Tristram.
You may extend this career into organ-hunting, which means that you will not trade the keys you find, but instead cube them to open portals to the mini-ubers. Many character builds can be used to kill these monsters. Consult the other forums for more information. You can then either trade organs off individually or as sets for Torch runners to use in opening the way to Uber Tristram.
Again, self-explanatory. I haven’t been to Uber Tristram myself, but I am told that it is not a friendly place to be. There are great guides on killing the Brothers in these forums, which should point out ideal builds to use. Hellfire Torches make for great trades, but again, be warned. They cannot be exchanged in the trade window as they are unique charms. You will need to trade by dropping them on the ground and hoping that the other guy drops his goods and doesn’t pick them up immediately and steal your Torch. Also, a character can only hold one Torch at a time. If you run solo, be sure to have a set of Hell-ready mules to enter the game and pick them up for you. Better yet, enter Tristram Torch-free. Of course, this makes you less effective at killing.
It gets a little complex here. There’s a nifty full-length guide on looking for the right server on which Diablo Clone walks. Many players have used this method to successfully reap multiple Annihilus charms, which are some of the most expensive items in the game. You will, of course, need to have multiple mules who can enter Hell games to pick up said charms, or kill DClone without an Anni to begin with. Check this guide for more details.
You’re comfortable and happy, and you’ve outfitted your first great character to your fullest satisfaction. Congratulations. Now, what to do with your magic finder?
You could turn him or her into a mule, and a very effective one that can actually enter Hell games and potentially pick up dropped Gheed’s Fortune, Annihilus, or Hellfire Torch charms for you. You can, of course, continue MFing with them. No harm in building the wealth further and getting ready for your next great project.
The best thing about them, however, is when they turn out to be your first choice in characters all along. Less characters mean less items to outfit them with, and generally, a shorter, sweeter path to the Ultimate Setup. I myself am most partial to Fishymancers and Meteorbs, and immediately set to work on outfitting my Fishy with alternate MF runs using both characters. I’ve Patriarched both since, and they’re still very close to my heart.
Do whatever you want to with your MF character. Have them stick around and play with them every so often. After all, it’s them you have to thank for making your characters as awesome as they are now.
Not exactly related to success in Diablo II at all, but this aspect of the game still merits some discussion. What truly bugs most players about newbies is not the fact that they aren’t quite experienced with the game, but the very persistent negative behavior they exhibit. Few things can mark you for death more than begging, randomly cussing, picking fights, and stealing.
• Do not go around begging people for free items, something commonly communicated as “Gib itams plz”. This pisses most players off, and they will most likely ignore you or make good use of the Bnet squelch command. Great Diablo players got that way by working hard at earning their goods, not by entering random games to beg people for freebies and whatnot. This will not work for you, and it is certainly not a good way to get people to like you.
• Be polite. This is such common knowledge, but far too many players, not necessarily just newbies, seem to have attitude problems. Some will persecute you for your choice of class, build, or equipment. Others will insist on cussing out both you and your entire bloodline for petty things like refusing to party with them. Don’t bother. Squelch them (hit enter and type “/squelch [username]”), ignore them, leave the game, whatever. The point to remember is to be polite. It’s cheesy, but do unto others what you want to be done unto you.
Say thank you after trades are done, after free rushes, or when an older player feels like giving you stuff to help you out. Don’t yell at someone for giving you a Leaf staff over the freaking Oculus. Be thankful for what you get. You might even make friends in the process. Said friends might even like you enough to help you out. I’ve received rushes, gems, and even full low-level outfits from some of my friends. I’m not saying that you should go out of your way to make friends who’ll give you freebies. I’m saying that being a good, decent person, even on something as faceless as the Internet, pays off, every single time.
• Play intelligently. It takes a little concentration and experience to be able to play the game right. Now, there isn’t one exact correct way to play properly, but there are certain issues you can work on when playing as a specific class. For example, necromancers constantly get the poo end of the stick for playing with summons, as the lag can slow the game down for other players. Try to limit the number of minions you play with then. You won’t be needing as many in a multi-player game. Then there are the necromorons who insist on flinging useless curses on enemies, constantly overwriting the more effective curses placed there by other necros.
Pay attention to the party’s needs and conform accordingly. If you’re playing with lots of sorcs, use Lower Resist to help boost damage. If you’re a paladin, turn on Vigor in the downtime between monster packs to help things run along faster. If you’re a barbarian, go around and use Shout, Battle Orders, and Battle Command on anything that isn’t a monster. If you’re an Enchantress and you aren’t enchanting your party to help boost attack rating and fire damage, then you’re clearly not playing very smart. Also, a final, biased note for us necros and the trapsins: people, please take off Nature’s Peace and Lawbringer when playing in public! You make kittens cry.
• Spell properly. I know this is harsh, but it truly does not take much effort to type things out correctly, even if you don’t capitalize or use punctuation. Try not to type things in all caps unless you do it specifically to express enthusiasm, and please don’t hack things out in 1337 speak, as, sorry to say, there is nothing ‘leet’ about it. Finally, do not flood the bloody screen with the same message if people don’t immediately respond to you. You’ll most likely be mass-squelched, or for the benefit of the other players, PKed just on principle. You are, by the way, totally excused if English isn’t your first language.
• If someone is rushing you, try your very best to be nice to them. And be polite when it comes to item drops. General consensus dictates that the rusher gets first choice of items, since it’s him doing the killing, and most likely him with the MF turning the stuff green, yellow, and gold. When it comes to act bosses, thought, rushees are usually given the benefit of first pick, since the first time a character kills a boss for a quest is also the best set of drops that boss will give (this is statistically true, but it will, of course, still depend on MF at the boss’ time of death). Rules may vary in your corner of Bnet. It may help to discuss this with your rusher beforehand. A last note. If it’s a free rush, let him have everything. He’s doing this for you for free, after all.
Closing and Credits
A great many thanks to the beautiful minds of Nightfish, Sasja, Darnoc, Cyber Dragon, Hoarshade, C Squad, Twelvebagger, and Urlik_Skarsol for their excellent guides and the information that was so helpful in the creation of this guide. Thanks also to Arreat Summit for being there to provide detailed statistics and information on just about everything on-call, 24/7. And thank you for having the patience to read through this. Here’s to your eventual prosperity. Cheers.