KoPhanTom - KingOfPain
The pre-game plan
Build up low mana costing skills such as Bash and Mastery (for passive) since mana steal or adders can only be counted on as luxuries. The dilemma is mastery will serve better if I can be sure I have enough decent swords to last. But, combat skill points would serve better with all weapons. If the Combat Skills are narrowed down to 2 or 3, pumping Combat Skills may not be a bad choice but then there is always the mana problem.
Just as important as proper stats distribution and skills selection, like CD Ironman, is to secure a foothold where I can expand my territory gaining more room to retreat and choose my own battlefield.
Pick up at least one set of bow and/or throw weapons. There maybe times I am going to be shieldless, I might as well equip a throw weapon on the other hand and give myself a hit and run option.
At this point, I wasn't interested in gaining exp. I am not going to deal with her minions or willing to take any hits from them either. Soon as I had a lock on Blood Raven I Bashed her to submission, and drinking up the few blues I had, used Howl to keep the minions away.
have risked my life for this ring!?
Clvl 7 upon entering Dark Wood. Monsters moved faster, came in larger packs and mixed with in a few archers made it a little more interesting. Treehead Woodfist did not present any problem at all once it's separated from the mob. Noticing normal attack beginning to whiff. The only problem I should have in Tristram is its many bosses and champs. I knew enough to proceed cautiously not to activate too many at time. Tom #1 had died in Tristram - he was trapped between a rock and the edge of the map with escape to the North and South cut off by skel champs. That's when he found out the hard way (first thinking it was lag then realized I am playing single player) Leap doesn't leap too far. Nevertheless, I set a TP in Tristram just in case I need to bail. I'd need a TP to town after the quest anyway. Griswold was hard to hit but he wasn't a problem when I was willing to drink blues to keep using Bash for the extra AR. Quest ring was a Crimson Strength 9/2
Starting to see 2 handed swords in Black Marsh which requires 27 Dex. Although I now have a pair of leather gloves of Skill with +4 Dex, I just can't count on items to last. The plan then is to pump stats to meet item requirements without bonuses from items. No noteworthy item yet so far except for a Sharp spear of Leech and a 2 handed sword of the Leech (probably the best sword I will find and ID for a while to come). I equipped a Sharp spear of Leech as I waded through Black Marsh to save wear and tear on the shield and long sword. At this point, this sounds like a good idea - to use other would be throwaways (once a foothold is established) until it gets tough. "At this point" means it is still easy going and there is room to compensate minor errors/mishaps. At higher lvl/diff, the philosophy should be live for the moment and go as far as possible, worry about later - later.
I reached Clvl 9 and the spear had worn out shortly before facing off with the wimpy Countess. I have 27 natural Dex now and I intend to keep going with the 3 Str and 2 Vit distribution until I need to pump Dex again then use the points that would go to Str and still get 2 Vit every lvlup.
It was full clear until the Tamoe Highland. I hugged to outline to find the Monastery entrance, however, all monsters in sight was dealt with.
needs weapons more than an Ironman!?
Can Andariel stand up to a Clvl 13 barb with 171 HP wearing green leather glove and a belt full of rejuvs? Not a chance after she's was singled out, next to the stairs up ;)
at end of Act 1:
I have left behind 2 Blue small shields. I decided any shield less than a tower is not worth an ID since the blocking % is the most important thing and it's a gamble to get other attributes. 10 ID used so far with 19 left
The last of the sword is worn out, the only weapon left is a new found double axe on Sewer 2. I am fighting hard the temptation to put a point in Axe Mastery. But I was not struggling atm, standing in front of Radament's pack, so another skill point is saved. There was no way I can or willing to force my way right to Radament with his minions' protection. I couldn't kill the minions faster than he can resurrect them. The only way was to lure minions far enough away from Radament not only to thin out the mob but also prevent Rad man from resurrecting them.
Just outside of the gates, the boss pack dropped couple of needed items… 3 IDs used on an amulet of Dex (Not the last jewelry trashed by mistake (#1) until I realized I should Xmute them), scale mail of Amelioration (58 DR. The ring mail was going to break anytime soon) and a Fine claymore of Slaying. The sword will be reserved until the double axe breaks - This creates an interesting behavior of using the second/third best items available most of the time. 13 IDs used so far and 23 left
I hugged and cleared the parameter of Rocky Waste until Dry Hill. Full cleared since I needed to find Hall of the Dead and the WP. At Clvl 15 I started to distribute points to Dex instead of Str in preparation for heavier swords. Still pumping 2 Vit per lvl. those pilum are looking pretty good when my weapons are wearing our. Will try some bow tactics as well if the conditions are right.
Those seemingly harmless monsters in a normal game can be a major pain in Ironman. Poison released after Decays (and other poison attacks) die are going to be a big problem for a melee class Ironman. Have to be careful to move away after each kill. Uh man, even the poison releasing urns take bigger bite out of my hp than most mobs ;( Amazing! I have just realized I haven't find a single pot of Antidote this far into the game. In the middle of Hall of the Dead, I have decided to up Find Potions to 2 (27%) so I can be more liberal with pots and perhaps move on faster. The only notable item after the Cube quest is the cube ;p and a Claymore of Locust :) will come in handy when running low on potions. Of coures that's just wishful thinking. I am not going to be leeching a noticeable amount of HP with this kind of damage.
I had no choice but rush in, every second of delay means more spawns. I drank like a fish out of water just barely keeping up a safety level of HP. Note that Leap was hotkeyed and readied and I was only using normal attack. I knew I couldn't afford the mana for Bash to kill all of the maggots and I would need what little mana I can muster for Leap - For getting pass the spawns to the Sand Maggots and to leap out for refills. After what seemed like an eternity Coldworm finally went down and gave me quite a scare. I was so poisoned I couldn't drink fast enough to bring my empty life globe to stabilize. That's a big problem when there were still a handful of itches and maggots left alive. With a flash of genius, I ran away from the lair screaming, screaming and screaming - more accurately, Howling. It scared the crap out of the remaining monsters…
DUH!! Just remembered I still have the Death Guard in my stash (newbie mistake #2 - not checking all that's available at my disposal, especially before a tough boss). I would have been less of a panic ;-|
Well, at least I didn't get stair trapped at the second level of the Claw Viper Temple. Although the vipers does take a big bite once in a awhile, they have got to be one of the easiest to kill monsters in the game. When I saw the entrance was relatively safe I backed myself to the wall to avoid activation of more snakes. If I was stair trapped I would have made a run for the altar. Taunt was put to use after I dealt with the initial 3-4 snakes. It worked out great this time and Fangy soon ran out of sparks after a few bashes.
The Palace had me switching gear on every level. First it was full of Horror Mage (cold) - now the Lapis/Thawing amulet and Azure ring came in handy. Then, lvl 2 saw Horror Mage (lightning) and Horror Archer (fire) mixed with Dune Beasts and Invaders. Then lvl 2, a few Horror Mages (poison) also appeared. Invaders and the mages were still easy to hit with plain normal attack and they are not hurting me much at all. These are the time when I enjoy having the Find Potion as active skill to fight and find potion at the same time. At this point, the extra damage from Bash didn't matter as long as I hit - Most monsters fell with the same amount of hits most of the time. Lvl 3 saw bunches of Invaders, Blunderbore and behind bars. *Evil grin* Now, for the first time I picked up a Sup long bow and cleared the zoo :) Not that I couldn't deal with this particular lvl without using up precious resources but some habits are hard (too good) to shake. Aww just like in CD - now my itch is satisfied. 2 set items dropped - Tancred's Weird and Berserker's Hatchet.
The Summoner was a piece of cake with the map I got. I was able to LA to his platform without having to fight my way to close in. The Ghoul Lords, Specters and Hell Clans in the Arcane Sanctuary can be a PITA when you get all 3 types together. Here I retreated a lot to separate Specters from the pack and lured them to the killing zone and out of Ghoul Lords' sight to avoid getting flamed while dealing with them. The task while time consuming got easier as I gained more ground. Canyon of the Magi presented no problem once I fought my way out of a small WP trap. Urns with lightning trap was an ouch when you have low resist. Although there were no near kill from the traps because my hp globe was near full, it was alarming nonetheless how much HP they took - this could be dangerous for other low HP classes/chars. The tomb is where the challenge is. Roomful of undead and multiple Unravelers. It forces you to take risk because you just have to jump in head first and get the Unravelers first. I hit Clvl 20 before Duriel and pumped it all to Vit. I wanted that extra safety margin. Loaded up the best items (yeah right ;p), take a look at the skills again and pumped LA to lvl 2. OMG! This was the first time I have a faced off with single player Duriel since the ram upgrade and pre-load patch. I heard the whole speech and waited for the charge instead of the usual death screen. I even had time to back myself to the wall before he bit me; which took off about half a globe of 249 HP. With my back to the wall not getting knocked around he got in no extra charge, although I was greatly slowed the rest of the time, I knew Duriel was mine.
at end of Act 2:
As more swords were dropping I was confident to put the rest of the 4 points to Sword Mastery. I had over 40 ID left so I will be more liberal identifying those high quality items.
Unfortunately I had to clear all of Great Marsh to found its WP before I can get to the Flayer Jungle. Have I told you how much I hate the Jungle? Not so much the monsters in it but the automap overlay looks the worst here. Gloams were the only monsters giving problems with their Lightning attack. Although I could get up to 30% LR now, those items are reserved for LEBs and area heavily populated with lightning attack monsters such as the Plain of Despair can be with Burning Souls.
The Flayer Jungle, however, still needed to be explored slowly with large packs of midgets around every corner. The damage adds up quickly and worse yet if there were shamans around breathing their Inferno and cursing with IM. I sometime had to pre-drink a potion before I approach the shamans because taking a full breath of Inferno can take as much as half my HP away before I get a swing in. The tactic was to drink quick and Howl. Taunt was not used enough here due to low mana pool - by this time, I have trashed most mana potions in favor of rejuvs. Using bridges as choke point is the most important tactic in these parts. Still, I was moving along at a reasonable pace now, gathering body parts on the way, to Travincal. No monsters or boss/packs offered any major resistance; not Sszark, not Sarina, not even Riftwing. The points in Sword Mastery was paying off. A couple of new drops (Sigon's Visor, and a ring of the Bat from Riftwing (fitting) ) also helped. The Sigon's Visor was only used dealing with large mobs, 30 extra mana will mean I can maintain skill usage twice as much - that's one helm worth saving.
of the council
Here I took great care to clear from the bottom up and patrolled the cleared areas one more time to make sure no strayed monsters were alive. I would not appreciate any surprises while running away from the council members although I shouldn't have to face them all at the same time if I do it right. Keep to the West when approaching the building. If I approach from the East I'll probably have all the council member spill out to welcome me.
After another trip to town to dump the bow, suit up for some resists against the council members and the durance (up to 31 FR and 43 LR, not bad at all) I was able to lure and killed the uniques one at a time. I kept a careful eye on their HP and make sure I drink a red before the killing blow. Playing Ironman is not the right time to test if a super unique's CE will kill you.
Durance 2 was more fun than a barrel of a Undead Stygian Dolls, there were Cadavers, and Maulers but no shaman dolls - Annoying but they hurt less than their midget cousins with Shamans. Okay, I can handle th…BOOM BOOM BOOM. The sky was falling as I turned a corner. The Dark Lord boss, no, make that 2 Dark Lord boss packs, lit up the room with all their worth of Fire power. The screen was totally consumed in Fire spells it was so bright I can barely see if I needed to drink. A belt full of potion were gone in a matter of seconds before I ran far enough to safely cast an escape TP. I ran to town took a time out to calm my nerves and put on the Berserker's Hauberk (for its -2MDFE) before I went back down. This time around, without their advantage of a surprise plus that they are strung out, I'd own them with Taunt and -MDFE.
I could have boosted LR but it may not be all that practical to give up 24 FR with Ghoul Lords around. Although Bremm was scary doing high damage with its CB, It was scarier when my Fine claymore of Slaying broke in the middle of a fight with Wyand and a Ghoul Lord. Muhaha, this was the first time ever I actually appreciated a teleporting boss. After the two wings were cleared I ran pass Meph to the back of the room and lured out the rest of the Ghoul Lords - out to the lobby for a proper burial. I hate distractions when dealing with tough customers ;)
It's time to stash
the Berserker's Hauberk again and put my Coral chain mail on to get LR
back to 43%. I didn't need to use any special tactic against Meph except
to leave my left digits on the potion keys…Oh except…umm, I wouldn't be
KingOfPain if I didn't try this on him…(see
screeny after stats)
Normal traveling gear:
Including ID'd junk
not carried - 41 ID scrolls left
Now I can do enough damage and the monsters have enough HP to leech some life from, and more importantly mana to maintain skill usage to a comfy level I felt confident that I have enough Stats and Skills to carry me through the end of normal difficulty. I was half way to lvl 24 and still have 3 skill points left. The 2 lvl 24 skills I look forward to are Grim Ward and Battle Order.
My life as a pub owner was over and I closed shop when I left Act 3. Drinks of red, blue and purple filled the entire area around Ormus - 20+ full rejuvs was all I've managed to take with me to Act 4. In Hell with surplus mana and blues sometimes, I wouldn't mine pumping Find Items to lvl 2 and one more to Sword Mastery. Also now my mastery is relatively high I am employing a different tactic for the Outer Steppes (and possibly further). As much as I can, I would use normal attack and steal mana to Find Items after each monster killed ;)
It was pretty uneventful all the way to RoF. If I made this sound too easy, it was - as long as you proceed with Ironman discipline. Burning Souls populating Plain of Despair were no threat and Izzy went down easy enough - Is he ever a problem to anyone? One notable drop so far is a Fortified tower shield of Stability 22 DR, -2mfde and fast recovery. You can see where this is going, right?
River of Maggots, I meant Flame, was full of maggots. I guess I shouldn't complain except for the wear and tear on weapons; it could be much worse and be full of Aks. Hephasto almost had me. My original plan was to find and clear a peninsula or similar land feature then try out some bow tactics on him. Somehow (don't ask me how as I have no clue, stupidity maybe) I wandered right into his embrace. He got me with a curse and a hit before I leaped out of range. Against my better judgement, I was not ready for him as I was about to town and pick up more potions, I took him on right there and then. I decided to run when I was on my last potion and my HP down to 1/5. I couldn't cast an escape TP as he was right at my heels so I had to escape from the City entrance. Where's your head KoP, haven't you learned enough to always have an escape TP? Refilled my belt with full rejuvs and equipped the Massive long sword instead of the bastard of Carnage for faster swings, slapped myself twice and dived back in. Positioning myself constantly making sure there was always room behind Hephasto, he soon fell to Bash knockback. A yellow pike! Grim Scratch - Dmg 31-124, Vileness, 49 AR, 11 Str and SIAS. Sheesh, the unmodified damage on the pike does twice as much damage than my sword with Mastery and Bash.
After Hadriel gave me his blessing I headed toward the Chaos Sanctuary. 1/4 to lvl. Looks like I have a good chance of lvling up to 25. Thanks Hadriel, Same monsters types all the way to the CS - no range attacker.
I owned the CS, NOT! I was getting careless again after beating Hep into a pulp. I released Vizer without taking the proper precaution and soon learned a lesson on humility. Vizer and the gang moved in and sucked up my mana dry quickly. I had LA as my attack, cries on the right mouse button. That means I can click like mad and nothing would happen. A second of inaction inside the mob, trying to leap out instead of attacking/running, was enough to create a drinking panic. The standard TP out and reenter RoF WP procedure would be implemented from now on. From now on it's crawling at the speed of a snail and Taunt every few steps, retreat and kill the faithful followers.
If you have been paying
attention to the drops you know I owned Diablo with up to -5MDFE and -2DFE
(and 2 more -DFE if Cathan's Seal) with Fortified tower shield of Stability,
Tancred's Weird and Berserker's Hauberk. This setup is a tad overkill
so the rare gothic plate was used for even more resists and life. :)
Skills remain the same as end of Act3 except now I have Battle Order, Iron Skin, and Grim Ward all at lvl 1, and Sword Mastery is now at 8.
LA damage - 33-117
Items from Act 4: