Diablo 2 Guide: Hardcore Sorceress Guide

 

Tweaking

Tweaking is the term used to describe the usage of fast and fastest cast items to achieve extremely fast casting rates, by reducing the amount of frames needed to display the cast animation. Since 1.04, all “faster cast” items have been renamed to “fastest cast”, as both of them are actually the same thing.

Below is a table that tells you how much speed one would get by donning tweaking items. Fast cast items are given an arbitrary value of 1 and Fastest cast items are given a value of 2, so if you are wearing 2 fast cast and 1 faster/fastest cast items, you have 4 points worth of casting. The game runs at exactly 25 FPS (frames per seconds), although usually more frames is rendered on the graphics card per second. You can see your FPS rendering rate by typing “fps” in the chat box in a game, along with other useful information such as your ping. If your FPS goes below 25, you will experience jerky game play and screen updating. Generally FPS + Skip = a maximum of 25.

n the table below, I have included a column indicating how many times one can chain cast static in about 2 seconds (45-55 frames), which sounds normal because to a solo sorceress, one shouldn’t be standing still for more than that. while for a party sorceress, 2 seconds worth of static is generally doing enough damage for the party members or yourself to finish the monsters.

Points of CastingFrames Per Cast (Static)

Maximum casting in about 2 seconds

0134 (52 frames, 2.08s)
1124 (48 frames, 1.92s)
2115 (55 frames, 2.20s)
3105 (50 frames, 2.00s)
4105 (50 frames, 2.00s)
596 (54 frames, 2.16s)
686 (48 frames, 1.92s)
786 (48 frames, 1.92s)
877 (49 frames, 1.96s)
977 (49 frames, 1.96s)

One point of note is that 3 points and 4 points of casting cast at the same speed, and so is 6/7 points and 8/9. Given the amount of times we cast static in a period approximately equal to 2 seconds, how much damage are we dealing to a 0% resistant (lightning) monster compared to one with maximum (75%) resistance?

Points of casting  Maximum casting in about 2 secondsHealth remaining to 0% L resistsHealth remaining to 75% L resists
0431.6%77.2%
1431.6%77.2%
2523.7%72.4%
3-4523.7%72.4%
5617.8%67.9%
6-7617.8%67.9%
8-9713.3%65.7%

All sorceress are guaranteed to have at least 2 points of casting from the weapon, so we will take that as a base, that a minimum 23.7% of a monsters health would be left by the end of 2.20 seconds. Adding one more point to this (with a ring/amulet, 3 points) reduces the amount of time needed from 2.20 to 2.00 seconds for the same damage, or a 10% improvement. Although 0.2 seconds might not seem to be a lot, it actually is, and this is multiplied should you further chain cast beyond 2 seconds.

If you have 4 points of casting, where 2 points are both from rings, consider changing one of them to a SoJ, as this will not affect casting speed. As such, 3 point casting setups and 5 point casting setups (with a Magefist) are the most prevalent, assuming that a 3D-tower shield is used and not a Wall. If a wall is used, the resultant player usually ends up swapping his fast cast jewelry for prismatic rings, unless he is lucky enough to obtain a prismatic fast cast ring, so the advantages of using a Wall isn’t there.

At 5 points of casting (weapon, Magefist, 1 ring/amulet), the overall improvement as compared to 3 points (say swapping a Frostburn for a Magefist) is sacrificing 0.16 seconds for dealing up to 5.9% more damage. Is this worthy of losing 40% maximum mana? Suppose a sorceress casts at 3 points, (2.00 seconds) then fires his finisher 3 times to finish the remaining 23.7% health, as compared to another sorceress casting at 5 points, (2.16 seconds) then fires his finisher twice to finish the remaining 17.8%. Which is better? Static can be considered to consume no mana, but casting 3 finishers compared to 2 finishers take 1.5 more times mana. But wearing Frostburn gives you 1.65/1.25=1.32 times more only (assume SoJ as second ring).

The above applies to orb sorceress only though, because other finishers like Hydra, Firewall and Blizzard can be precasted. Now quite obviously at 5 points cast, one can kill faster because the AoE spell has already been precasted and all the player needs to do is to mass static. But does that really help you level faster by casting faster with a smaller mana pool by using Magefist instead of Frostburn? One would probably need to visit town a lot more often to recharge mana, where a Frostburn user might on the other hand, just drink a mana potion. Remember that casting faster also drains your mana faster, and that is on top of having a smaller mana pool.

All this discussion was based on monsters with 0% lightning resists, the fast cast concept is further dwarfed by lightning resists. A player would only do 4.5% more damage to a monster with maximum lightning resists by moving from 3 to 5 points of cast, and a finisher spell could probably do better than that. This means you will most likely static a resistant monster less and cast more finishers. You will then need more mana, so quite obviously a Frostburn wins in this scenario. There are plenty of lightning resistant monsters in Act 4, such as leapers, stranglers and burning souls.

The debate between Frostburn and Magefist doesn’t end here. Frostburn gives the player an additional 40% of his base mana. At level 75, a sorceress base mana would be close to 500. 40% of that is 200 mana. This 200 mana can be used by Energy Shield! If you have read the section Hp/mana Balance, you would realize that this 200 mana represents 100 EHP (effective HP). This 200 mana also means you can cast 200 more mana’s worth of spells before you run dry. A Frostburn increases mana/sec regeneration by 40%, a Magefist by 25% + 1 Warmth (12%) = 37%.

True, Magefist adds 1 level to all fire spells, but assuming a fire sorceress maxes his finishing fire spell, does a level 21 and level 22 fire spell (meteor, hydra, firewall) make a lot of difference? Fire mastery also improves, but since it has diminishing returns, assuming the player has already raised his FM to a decent level, +1 to FM is in effect adding 2% or so more damage, and in conjunction with finisher spell itself being raised a level, perhaps a total of 5% damage increase can be obtained. This 5% probably translates to 2% when fire resistances of monsters are considered in. In this aspect, Frostburn’s 40% mana and the prospects of having 100 more EHP is better than doing 2% more damage to a monster.

Where you have 2 fast cast jewelry equipped instead (probably 1 ring 1 amulet), wearing Magefist instead of Frostburn brings you from 4 point cast to 6 point cast. Here the argument is not the same as from 3 point cast to 5 point cast, because in this scenario, you are doing 4.5%-5.9% more hp worth’s of damage in 0.08 seconds less. However, considering the other effects of Frostburn and Magefist, this 5% hp damage is probably not worth having 100 more EHP and more mana to burn off to deal the same 5% more damage.

Unless your equipment is godly, an unlikely event in hardcore, you will almost never achieve 7 points of casting and above and maintain good values of resists. All out-tweaking will not really work in hardcore if it means sacrificing other useful life-saving abilities such as blocking, resists and hp.

Conclusion

Being able to cast faster is a nice bonus, but I will strongly urge the player not to overdo it at the expense of hp, mana and resists. Fast casting does not directly help in allowing you to survive better as opposed to hp, mana and resists. A realistic target to aim for is 3 points of casting from the weapon and 1 ring, wear 1 SoJ and Frostburn. Remember that the Frostburn and SoJ both adds to EHP and this itself makes it a good combination for hardcore play.


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