S20 COMMENTARY AND THOUGHTS
The time is nigh for yet another Season, this time themed as the Forbidden Archives. Its power, as many of you already know, allows you to use any Kanai's extracted power in any slot of the Cube, which can result in three weapon powers, three armor powers, three jewelry powers, or any combination or ratio of these that you can think of.
The seasonal theme for S20 is decently flavorful, but deceptive in its depth - in reality, most builds in Diablo 3 post-RoS and Kanai's addition are pre-designed with the addition of a specific weapon, armor and jewelry power in mind, which are not easy to deviate from - especially for solo players. (I'm not the only one who feels this way - you can hear wudijo
's excellent thoughts on the subject here
). Interestingly, we are about to see a repeat of S19's case where the class without a new set (Barb back then) becomes the most played one due to other circumstances; this time around, it will be the Necromancer, due to their ability to stack weapon powers.
This naturally leaves the question for the current state of the new sets, and while not as overwhelmingly powerful as the ones introduced in S19 (Valor and Patterns), they still provide interesting options to build around, or at least have a break from the usual builds in S20. The Wizard's Typhon's Veil is the least desirable of the additions due to its lacking numbers and bare mechanics, to a point where it struggles to compete with its own LoD variant, let alone a GR pushing staple like the Vyr Archon. That being said, you can absolutely play a very appealing LoD Hydra build with the reworked legendary items.
The Horde of the Ninety Savages set is a solid addition to the Barbarian roster, and will see a lot of S20 play. A huge part of the reason is its 2-piece power necessitating its inclusion in Support setups, but used in its 6-piece entirety it also provides a very capable speed farming setup, a decent and easy-to-grasp non-competitive GR solo pushing setup, and an exotic, yet quite capable Rift Guardian Killer variant. I encourage you to look at Rob2628
's experimentation on the subject
if you haven't - the build's wobbly survivability is not an issue when played in the right circumstances and tiers.
The Mundunugu Spirit Barrage Witch Doctor is the strongest of the new additions, and arguably one of the strongest builds in the game right now, especially for soloing. I definitely plan on dusting off my WD for the season despite the potential for Necro shenanigans, and if you are interested in delving deep into the Spirit Barrage mechanics I can only encourage you to look into fellow theorycrafter svr90
's reasearch on the topic
; it's a fascinating read that shed much light on how Spirit Barrage is used to this day.
Have a great Season 20, and as always - happy hunting!
-Deadset (No, really!)
EMERGENCY ADDITION: STARTING DIABLO WITHOUT THE BNET.CLIENT
To avoid the error that currently plagues the launcher
(BLZBNTBNA00000005 error) and log into Diablo despite the ongoing issues, follow the steps below:
- Create a shortcut to your Diablo .exe file (not the launcher .exe). You should use the 64-bit version in /x64 if you normally use this version.
- Go into the properties of the .exe and edit the shortcut target.
- Add " -launch", including the space at the start, but without quotation marks. Save your changes and use the shortcut - Diablo 3 will start up shortly afterwards.
- You will need to log in with your account details and, if you have an Authenticator, you will need to enter the code manually.
- Make sure to double check the region you are logging into with the options menu on the log-in screen.
GETTING STARTED THIS SEASON
We can clearly see an influx of new and returning players - people looking for guidance and advice on early crafting, gambling, and character building foundations. This is my attempt to convey as much information as I can in a single thread.
At the very start of the Season, your first job is, naturally, to create a new seasonal hero. While this first choice does not lock you down too terribly, note that the Seasonal Journey rewards you once per Season
- only for the character that completes the chapters first. Bearing that in mind, pick your character and go in game.
While in town, approach one of the followers that most closely matches your class (Templar for Barbarians, Monks and Crusaders, Scoundrel for Demon Hunters, and Enchantress for Witch Doctors, Necromancers and Wizards), select the "Inventory & Skills" option, take their weapon and equip it yourself
- it is a significant upgrade over the base weapon that you start with.
Note that once you reach level 7, vendors in all towns - the ones with the nickname "the Fence"
in their names - will start selling rings. Each of them has a chance to sell rings that increase your Average Damage (i.e. 2-4 Damage), which is a massive DPS boost early on.
Challenge Rift Completion and Kanai's Cube
After your character is created, head to the Game Settings menu, go into the Challenge Rifts and start the current weekly run. Note that you have to have completed at least one Greater Rift on your account (either in non-seasonal or previous seasons) to have Challenge Rifts unlocked. Challenge Rifts are a weekly challenge that provides a fixed character and a build (usually using quirky skills and/or heavily unoptimized stats and items), and challenges you to beat the Greater Rift completion time of its original owner.
The completion of the Challenge Rift is usually trivial and can be completed either solo or in a group, and will net you a Challenge Rift Reward cache. Open it up in-game with your brand new seasonal character and claim its contents: Death's Breaths, a couple hundred of each of the base crafting materials, Blood Shard, a couple million gold, and 15 each of the Act-specific bounty cache materials. With your newfound riches, upgrade both your Blacksmith and your Mystic craftsmen in town to their maximum rank.
Your next important step is to acquire Kanai's Cube. Kanai's Cube is found in The Ruins of Sescheron - the waypoint in the top right corner of the Act III map. From that waypoint, run left towards the city and make your way around the ruins; one of its far corners (typically upper right, lower right, or lower left) will have the entrance to the next zone, the Elder Sanctum. Once in the Elder Sanctum, make your way through the zone, practically to its other end. When you find the Cube and click it, it automatically transports itself back to town.
While you are at it, take a look at the Kanai's Cube guide
for additional details on its use - it is an incredibly important part of your character progression at any point of the game, so make sure to acquaint yourself thoroughly with its properties.
Which Item to Craft and Extract in the Cube?
One of the strongest early game boosts that you can obtain while leveling is to craft a yellow (rare) level 70 item at the blacksmith, then try to upgrade it into a valuable legendary at Kanai's Cube, and finally extract its property for one of the Kanai's Cube legendary power slots. Note that this strategy is stronger for some classes over others, particularly favoring Demon Hunters, Necromancers, and somewhat Barbarians. The remaining classes can skip this step and directly go to gambling, sparing themselves some disappointment and saving some materials for level 70, since you can do this recipe exactly once at the Season's start (you only have so many Death's Breaths).
When choosing which rare item to craft, keep in mind that you are looking to upgrade them into a legendary that provides some form of skill damage multiplier that will skyrocket your leveling efficiency. Every class has a different set of valuable items to attempt for:
- Craft a rare level 70 Two-Handed Mighty Weapon, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Fury of the Vanished Peak or The Gavel of Judgment.
- Craft a rare level 70 One-Handed Flail, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Darklight, Gyrfalcon's Foote or Johanna's Argument.
- Craft a rare level 70 Dagger, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Karlei's Point or a Lord Greenstone's Fan. Demon Hunters are excellent at this strategy since they only have 2 daggers, and they are both great for leveling.
- Craft a rare level 70 Daibo, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either an Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, Balance or The Flow of Eternity.
- Craft a rare level 70 Two-Handed Scythe, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Bloodtide Blade, Maltorius' Petrified Spike, Nayr's Black Death or Reilena's Shadowhook. Necromancers are excellent at this strategy since they only have 4 legendary Two-Handed Scythes, and they are all great for leveling.
- Craft a rare level 70 Staff, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Staff of Chiroptera or Wormwood.
- Craft a rare level 70 Wand, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Fragment of Destiny, Starfire, Unstable Scepter or Wand of Woh.
Note that this part of the leveling strategy requires some
amount of luck for non-DH and non-Necromancer players. Leveling in a group minimizes the risk of RNG screwing everyone over, but sometimes you will be unlucky; this is nothing to be bothered by, as leveling in Diablo is still a fairly easy and straightforward process.
If you are lucky, however, and obtain one of the items outlined above, you will have just about enough Death's Breaths to use the Extract Legendary Power recipe in Kanai's Cube. Do that, and then slot the (now maximized) legendary power of the item in the Cube, netting yourself a considerable leveling bonus. Needless to say, adjust your build accordingly to the legendary power, i.e. if you get Guard of Johanna as a Crusader, make Blessed Hammer your main damage dealing skill throughout leveling.
Spending the Challenge Rift Blood Shards
Your next step is to try and gamble for valuable items from Kadala at level 1. Since not every legendary is available right from the start, the legendary item pools for some classes are restricted in a beneficial way to obtain another strong damage multiplier right from the start. If you do not consider the legendaries listed for your class particularly attractive, you can always gamble for Helms for a considerable chance at obtaining Leoric's Crown
; extracting its power and socketing rubies in your helmets throughout leveling will net you a hefty amount of extra experience.
- Gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain either Bracers of Destruction or Bracers of the First Men. Spend any remaining Blood Shards on Boots for a chance at Lut Socks.
- Gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain Gabriel's Vambraces. If you are lucky to get them quick, you can also spend some (or all, if you are feeling lucky) on shields for Guard of Johanna or Denial. At level 31, if you have any Blood Shards saved over, or new ones you are willing to spend, you can try your luck at Pants for Hammer Jammers.
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Belts, trying to obtain the Hellcat Waistguard, although Grenade comes a little later in the leveling process. Otherwise, either go for Leorics Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants). Another gambling strategy you can attempt is saving shards for level 30, when you can gamble on Quivers for a chance at Sin Seekers, or level 31 - for the additional chance at Holy Point Shot and Spines of Seething Hatred.
- Gamble for either Boots (hoping to obtain Rivera Dancers or The Crudest Boots) or Bracers (hoping to obtain either Pinto's Pride, Cesars Memento or Gungdo Gear). Adjust your gambling strategy for Monk depending on the item you obtained (if any) on the previous step, where you upgraded a rare item (i.e. gambling for bracers if you got an Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, hoping to get Pinto's Pride).
- Gamble for Gloves, trying to obtain Grasp of Essence.
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Mojos, trying to obtain a Gazing Demise, but its usefulness is rather limited in early character progression. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants).
- Not many great options; you can gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain Ashnagarr's Blood Bracer, but its defensive properties are not very useful early on. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown (helm) or the damage proc of Pox Faulds (pants). Another gambling strategy you can attempt is saving shards for level 31, when you can gamble on Rings for a chance at Manald Heal,or level 33 - for Source gambling for Etched Sigil.
Crafting a High Level Rare and Reducing Level Requirement
Pick a two-handed weapon category of your choice (2h Axes, Maces, Swords...) and craft a level 70 weapon of the chosen type. Avoid class-specific weapons, since they add a class-specific roll to the secondary stat pool (i.e. Max Fury), making this strat harder. You are looking for a roll with:
- At least a Crowd Control secondary stat - Chance to Stun, Slow, Fear,.. etc. On Hit;
- Ideally, also a Life per Hit primary stat;
If both these stats are present, you have eliminated a large part of the possible Secondary stats on the weapon. Thus, you can easily reroll the other Secondary stat (the one that is NOT
the crowd control stat) into Reduced Level Requirement
- making the item wearable up to 30 levels prior to level 70.
This is a tremendous damage increase for a large chunk of your leveling process.
Of course, if you are very lucky, the Reduced Level Requirement can roll onto your crafted item outright.
Complete a Boss Bounty
An easy early boost to your character in Seasons is to check your bounties for any easily completed act boss killing bounties - the most famous examples being Zoltun Kulle (at the Archives of Zoltun Kulle waypoint) and Maghda (down from the Road to Alcarnus waypoint) in Act II. Another option is Azmodan at the very end of Act III. Simply run past the mobs and go straight for the boss kill.
The boss bounties reward you with a Diabolic Hoard chest that is guaranteed to drop you a couple of rare items; they will boost your overall character power nicely right at the beginning.
And this is it! You've made it to the actual leveling part! :) You have three major options:
Torment VI Traps Method Turn the difficulty up to Torment VI and go to the Halls of Agony Level 1.
Run and dodge past monsters that come in your way until you reach the falling blades traps; there, lure the monsters towards these traps and watch as they get slaughtered
, netting you tremendous experience.
This method, while extremely efficient time-wise, is also (arguably) quite unfun and counter-intuitive, not to mention prone to mishaps. Needless to say, this strategy is not Hardcore-friendly
and will result in the (frequent) death of your character.
Via Massacre Bonus
You can also consider leveling via Massacre bonuses — a very potent strategy in solo play. The Massacre bonus XP system was revised in Patch 2.4.1 into a multiplicative experience bonus that rewards you for chaining kills of monsters. The caveat is this bonus only works in bounties - and not during Rifts.
To successfully pull of long chains of monster kills, pick highly populated zones - the Cathedral (Act I), Halls of Agony Level 3 (Act I), and, most notably, Fields of Misery (Act I). The tactic is to always be on the move, leading monsters into one another, abusing Cursed Chests for monster spawns, and generally using skills with DoTs or high AoE (Rend for Barbarian, Blessed Hammer for Crusader, Multishot for Demon Hunter, Wave of Light for Monk, Locust Swarm for Witch Doctors, Blizzard for Wizards).
While Massacre leveling will require frequent restarts of the game (every 5-10 minutes), it will result in some of the fastest leveling in Diablo 3, clocking under the 2 hour mark when you get the hang of it. Due to its individual nature and the level of coordination required to pull it off in a multiplayer game, leveling by Massacre bonuses can only be recommended for 2+ players if they are experienced and have voice communication; this is predominantly a solo leveling technique. It also has the considerable downside of losing the increased legendary drop rate and blood shards of rifting.
For groups and players that do not stress losing an hour in the 1-70 race, the general recommendation is to stick to rifts for the 1-70 journey. Rifts grant you increased legendary drop rate, blood shards for gambling, and a hefty "hand-in" bonus at the end. While rifting has a higher degree of randomness than bounties (map layout, monster density and composition are all RNG), the removal of Rift Keystones as a requirement to open them allows you to simply remake if you get a bad (difficult or slow) rift.
ENDGAME HIGHLIGHTS FOR SEASON 20
Now that you have made it here, what do you have to look forward to? :)
BARBARIANS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Immortal King's Call
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Barbarian. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Wrath of the Wastes - Rend
Built from the ashes of a very old Rend/IK mixture, the Rend Wastes Barbarian truly shows the potential and terror of this DoT build. An unstoppable machine that whirls, cleaves and guts demons like Barbarians were always meant to do. With the newfound powers of Ambo's Pride, this build bleeds his enemies dry in an instant, turning what was once an unassuming bleed into a fearsome nuke that gets applied every second. Couple that with the savage elegance of Whirlwinding, and it's no wonder people will return to this build time and again when it comes to Barb progression. Might of the Earth - Seismic Slam
Always underappreciated, but always ready to pounce from the shadows and deliver, the Earthquake set has been quietly sitting very close to the leaderboard's top through a select few, but very devout Barbarian players. In Season 19, we finally have Seismic Slam the way it should always have been - a thunderous mid-range devastator, the perfected counterpart of its older EQ cousin. With the reworked Fjord Cutter, this build is quite the underrated powerhouse.
CRUSADERS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Seeker of the Light
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Crusader. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Aegis of Valor - Heaven's Fury Shotgun
One of the two new sets from Season 20 ascended Crusaders to a whole new level, and evoked the times when the Holy Shotgun was considered OP, because it was the only Reaper of Souls build that demolished T6. Hundreds of millions of damage and health spikes later, this (un)holy amalgamation of items delivers a mixture of Fist of the Heavens and Heaven's Fury Shotgun shots with righteous ferocity that have earned this build the one rigthful nickname: God Crusader. In short, it's pretty damn OP
, even with the Season 20 nerfs. Aegis of Valor - Fist of the Heavens
Not as strong as its counterpart, but just as satisfying - the Fist of the Heavens visuals are undeniable - and one of the best Crusader farming builds out there, again courtesy of the new Aegis of Valor Crusader. Mount up, descend into battle and demolish screens full of demons with violent, electrified arcs covering the entire battlefield? What more could you ask for?
DEMON HUNTERS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Natalya's Vengeance
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Demon Hunter. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Natalya - Rapid Fire
The emergence of the Rapid Fire build finally brought the close range, Tommy gun-like fantasy of the Demon Hunter class to life - all in a destructive, methodical playstyle that isn't afraid to get into the thick of fights and chaingun-and-grenade its way out. With its focus on channeled destruction, the Natalya set is the other perfect home for this build, aside from the traditional LoD take on it - and a very high performing build, too. With Natalya's Vengeance being the free set in Season 20, it's a good time to give this build... a whirl. ;) Shadow - Impale
The ninja-like, assassin playstyle of Shadow Impale ramps up in power so fast, that it often sits at the top of the leaderboard for a week, waiting for slower builds to catch up. Impale DHs vault in, plant a dagger in an elite's back (usually ending its life outright), and then disappear in the shadows, onto their next target. The build has grown to include the Aughild set for additional elite devastation, making it one of the ultimate 'hunting' styles in the game.
MONKS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Uliana's Stratagem
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Monk. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Patterns of Justice - Tempest Rush
Rooting its powers firmly in the TR-dedicated Patterns of Justice set, this alternate take on Tempest Rushing gives its Sunwuko brother an equal competitor. The set empowers Sweeping Wind to astronomical proportions, stacking all the runes and swelling the vortex of destruction to a veritable cyclone. Sunwuko - Tempest Rush
Empowered by a slew of changes to its core items, the Tempest Rush Monk offers one of the most fluid, easy-to-grasp and satisfying endgame playstyles, one that draws monsters in helpless piles and alternates periods of sustain damage with carefully calculated bursts of cold destruction. I've been looking for a relaxing, chill Monk endgame build for a while, and this is their perfect answer to Whirlwind Barbs.
NECROMANCERS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Trag'Oul's Avatar
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Necromancer. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Legacy of Dreams - Poison Nova
This folks, is the One You Get To Play Once. The existence and viability of this build relies entirely on the Season 20 bonus, and with the stack of weapon powers towering its burst damage to ridiculous proportions, this poisonous obliterator will lead to some of the most spectacular GR clears this Season, rest assured. Legacy of Dreams - Singularity
Love them or hate them, you can't deny Singularity Necromancer is one of the most ruthlessly effective summoner builds in the game; cold, calculating and intensive to play (both in terms of resource management and, befitting of Necromancers, frailty of the character). Replacing The Legacy of Nightmares for that of Dreams, Singularity Necros stay at the peak of their offensive power through Convention of Elements, Krysbin and the Circle of Nailuj rings. Legacy of Dreams - Coprse Lance
The Corpse Lance Necromancer is a highly mobile, bursty, timing-oriented spec that bides its time and Lances everything into oblivion once Land of the Dead reaches the lands of the living. This is certainly one of the more divisive playstyles in terms of enjoyment, but once its cooldowns line up, you cannot deny its power. It can also be adapted into a Poisonous variation for Rift Guardian killing for non-Crusader parties, which shouldn't be underestimated!
WITCH DOCTORS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Spirit of Arachyr
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Witch Doctor. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Mundunugu Spirit Barrage
The Mundunugu set empowers one of the most visually satisfying builds of Witch Doctors, Spirit Barrage, to a ridiculously powerful level that will (barring any unexpected changes) seal the WD's spot in group play for much longer than the flavor-of-month Poison Nova will for Necros. To top it all off, this build is very versatile across all game activities, and can be adapted to everything from bounties, through keyfarm and speeds, to high end solo and group pushing as the Trash Killer. My personal pick for S20. Zunimassa - Carnevil DoD
The Carnevil Witch Doctor summons an army of swarming minions at his side, whose adorable mimicking of his blowdart attack - and positively horrifying attack speed - are a sight to behold. This has been a long time coming; Zunimassa has been building up in power over the course of a few patches, with set and item changes that slowly inched it up in viability. Season 19 will see the continued domination of this build, with the Zuni Fetishes empowered by the craftable Aughild set (fitting just right
into the vacant slots of the setup) and the Attack Speed madness of Echoing Fury in the Cube. Jade Harvester WD
With power to match his imposing name, the Jade Harvester is a force to be reckoned with - crippling the enemies with damage over time effects, and then recklessly diving in to 'consume' and apply their entire duration instantly with a well placed Soul Harvest. This build now benefits from the Captain Crimson craftable set, as well as The Flavor of Time amulet, keeping it high in the WD pantheon of builds.
WIZARDS Haedrig's Gift Beginner Build: Vyr's Amazing Arcana
A guide that will take you through the leveling process efficiently and optimize your seasonal Wizard. Some of my personal endgame build highlights for this Season include: Legacy of Dreams - Mammoth Hydra
The Mammoth Hydra playstyle brings the tankier - and more potent - version of the Hydra playstyle in Season 20, as well as the triumphant return to viability for the summoner Wizard. If you are looking for a straightforward, durable and classic-feeling Wizard build for a change of pace from the hectic Archon staple, I would look no further than this one. Typhon's Veil - Frost Hydra
Of course, the set-based version of Hydras is still a very capable build in its own right, just undertuned to where it should be if it aims to be a competitive Wizard playstyle. Don't let that discourage you for more casual play however, as it is more than capable of clearing the vast majority of Diablo content, and its multi-headed Hydra focus allows for more fun and experimentation to the Mammoth Hydra adherence of its LoD counterpart. Vyr - Archon
Transforming the Wizard into an unstoppable being of Arcane destruction, the Achon build simply has it all - power, mobility, versatility. For the modest investment of two relatively easy-to-obtain sets - Vyr and Chantodo - this build will take you into the highest of Greater Rifts, and with a relatively simple to grasp playstyle to boot. This remains one of the strongest builds you could go for on a Wizard, and has an excellent character power-to-time-invested ratio.
Thank you so much for reading this and my guides! Good luck and have a great Season 20!