Introduction to the Hardcore Sorceress Guide
The Sorceress class is one of the more fun classes to play in Diablo 2, and usually one never gets bored of playing a sorceress. Given the various skill trees in fire, ice and lightning, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and try variants. However, few people can play a sorceress well, and the fragility of a sorceress makes it altogether a different playing experience as compared to other classes let alone the differences of playing one in hardcore and softcore.
The purpose of writing this guide is to promote the Sorceress class primarily in Hardcore, but also extends to Softcore. Looking at the ladder, one can see that the Sorceress class is one of the weakest classes. This guide is written for new hardcore sorceress players, but even experienced sorceress players can find invaluable information here and fine-tune their playing style.
Over the course of this guide, I will assume that you are reading it chronologically starting from Hp/Mana Balance first and down. Many concepts such as that of the EHP (effective HP) concept will be first introduced and used in subsequent sections hence it is advisable to read the aforementioned section first. I will also assume that you are building a sorceress for the purposes of leveling it up to a respectable level in hardcore (around 75), and not one meant for PKing and dueling.
For this purpose, this guide will give advice on how to build a sorceress with adequate defenses and maximize longevity with safety being top priority. If you feel some of these defenses are extra and you can do without it (such as 3D tower shield instead of WotE, or more hp and mana at the expense of fast cast), feel free to do what you want. This is a guide after all, but do keep it mind that lag can occur anytime and anywhere and it is still better to cover all bases than to be sorry later on.
Throughout the guide, I will be using level 75 as a target as well as for general comparison purposes. Why I chose level 75 to be of a respectable level is because if you get a character to lvl 75, you have shown to me that you know how to exp and you know how tedious it can be. It also shows that you have been through many different circumstances and have a lot of gameplay hours under your belt, including many situations involving lag, disconnects and monsters as hard as MSLE, Hephasto, etc and you are able to handle them.
Extremely hard variants such as a lightning-only-no-warmth sorceress are different. Due to the additional challenges and restrictions imposed on the variant play style, a respectable level would then differ. Is a level 55 lightning sorceress more respectable (I’m talking about respect, not skill) than a level 75 standard orb sorceress? Perhaps so, but even then, it is hard to compare apples to oranges. However the level 75 would have more gameplay experience. If someone has more experience, then maybe they are worth listening to. It is this that people generally use, that being of a higher level equates to being more skillful (which is untrue) and thus deserve more respect.
After level 75, the experience penalty kicks in and leveling up is an exponential process, each level taking a lot longer than the previous one. Whether a player is more skilled or not between a level 80 and 90, I would regard the level 90 as simply having a lot more time, patience and luck to survive through any disconnects and lag, and that both players probably have around equal skill level. On these 3 basis, I set my respectable level at 75, that if you are level 75 or above, I can assume that you are a skilled player. Getting to level 75 is not too hard, but not too easy either. People can get lucky all the time, and the only way to separate the newbies from the experts is how long they last before they die; level 60-75 is when this starts to happen.
What determines the skill of a player is more a function of what he does and how he thinks when he encounters certain situations and how he planned his character. A lightning-only sorceress is tough to play and takes a lot longer to level, but with some luck and skill, it is still possible to attain high levels. Certainly, the level of a character is a major determinant to the skill of a player but beyond level 75, it is no longer an accurate gauge. I would then classify everybody above level 75 of the same class as being more or less equally skilled in that class.
Where whole extracts are copied from other guides and sections are contributed by other players, the relevant acknowledgements will be given next to the heading of the sub-section.
If you have any information and opinion you would like to share, please do email in and let me know. As long as your argument is reasonable, I will add it into this guide. May this be a growing guide, and let us make it one of the best.
Main Differences Between a HC and SC Sorceress
There are many things that make a HC and SC sorceress vastly different because HC and SC have totally different focuses. The best SC sorc is probably a 10 vitality sorc tweaked to near max who goes for leveling speed and probably soloes. In HC the focus is totally different as death is permanent. Most HC sorcs have at least as much vitality as energy and are focused a lot more for cooperative play, a near max static is definite.
SC sorceress tend to run steppes and plains because it is quick, monsters have not much resists to lightning, and its quick exp for a solo sorceress. However in HC you’ll frequently run chaos or the river because it is more linear (keep stuff in front of you and therefore safer) and higher exp mobs. This means that the HC sorceress will definitely need max or near max resists whereas the SC sorc usually cares squat about anything but lightning resist.
To get these max resists while also having a high life and some bit of hit recovery equipment, a HC sorc will frequently have a much slower cast rate than a SC sorceress as cast rate really as important as staying alive. Sorceress often party in HC, thus one can actually stand still and static, without having to be on the run all the time where fast cast is more important.
Good equipment is much harder to come by in HC. Good equipment in SC is generally considered very good in HC, very good equipment in SC is godly in HC. Much equipment is lost into the HC void when players die unlooted and timeout. With this difference, the HC sorceress would have much greater difficulty in balancing resists, fast cast, mana and hp and even finding such equipment in the first place. A SC sorceress on the other hand could already have godly equipment (more players play SC, plus the fact that good items are almost never lost in SC, and that there are few HC players in Hell difficulty, equipment quality in SC must be higher) and could afford to use a Sigon Shield as resistances are catered for from other equipment for example.
The only SC sorceress that could even come close to comparison with a HC sorceress would be a PvP and PK oriented sorceress, where hp is important. However, such a sorceress would obviously care less about anything but cold resists in a duel or hunt.
For HC sorceress that does solo, you will see a lot more blizzard sorceress in HC because of the lower mana cost whereas most SC sorcs have 1400 to 1800 mana so mana isn’t an issue. A good estimate of the hp and mana of an average HC sorc at level 75 is about 650 hp and 900 mana, with maxed resists and 3 points of fast cast.
About the Author
Xinhuan is an avid Diablo 2 player currently playing on the USWest server. He lives in Singapore, which is located in Southeast Asia, at the tip of the Malaysia peninsular. When D2 first came out, he originally played on the highly unstable Asia server, and first started hardcore after a month of playing a softcore sorceress.
In September 2000, not being able to withstand the constant average ping of 3000 even on a cable connection playing hardcore, he migrated to USWest and has remained there ever since, playing with an average ping of 350.
With respect to his experience in playing a sorceress, he has an old school style level 63 (SC) sorceress on Asia where everyone thought +skills is the way to go. On USWest, he has a softcore level 76 sorceress while in hardcore, he has 6 sorceress, level 74, 56, 41, 64, 80 and 80, where the last two are still alive. He also has a level 80 necromancer, 76 bowazon and 50 hammerdin alive.
The first level 74 was a firewall sorceress, the next three being tweakers and semi-tweakers, and the final two and the softcore being nearly identical triplets, the current recognised standard of an Orb sorceress with 3 points of casting. Where deaths are concerned, 3 out of 4 were disconnects and the final one was being ripped off at the Vizier Seal by some itchy hand (mana burn bosses are as good as having no Energy Shield).
Regarding whether a player is more skilled or not between a level 80 and 90, one would regard the level 90 as simply having a lot more time, patience and luck to survive through any disconnects and lag. What determines the skill of a player is more a function of what he does and how he thinks when he encounters certain situations and how he planned his character. A lightning-only sorceress is tough to play and takes a lot longer to level, but with some luck, it is still possible to attain high levels. Certainly, the level of a character is a major determinant to the skill of a player but beyond level 70, it is no longer an accurate gauge.
Currently, Xinhuan is enlisted in National Service (army) for 2.5 years, as required by Singapore Law upon all males reaching the age of 19 or 20. He will only be able to return home once a week or so, until the end of his service. This most probably marks the end of his Diablo 2 career and this guide represents his effort into promoting the sorceress class as one of the most rewarding paths that can be undertaken in hardcore.
Ok, writing about myself is as dumb as recording yourself on a tape recorder. “You now speak to Ormus…” ;+P