Friday, June 30, 2023

Finally Making Druid Earth Magic Sexy in Diablo IV

I finally did it! My build finally makes a little more sense! Don't get me wrong, all the stuff I was doing up to this point was working just fine, but with the addition of one skill and swapping out Ravens for Trample, it all makes sense now.

An earthquake follows my charge!

Trample, you say? Isn't that a Werebear skill?  Yeah. You know where I'm going with this. There's an aspect that turns Trample into an Earth skill and it sends six shockwaves of landslide behind your charge forward. So now all that effort I had spent into making Landslide a great skill just got 12 times cooler.

Trample Landslide . . . I love it!

Twelve times cooler, you say? That sounds very specific? Yeah, because previously I had also added an aspect that made Landslide hit twice per use. That also works with my new Trample Aspect.  I charge forward with trample and then one set of six landslide shockwaves rumbles behind me, and then it's immediately repeated with another six landslide shockwaves behind it. It's incredible.

Feeling them Aftershocks!

I was so happy when I switched in that aspect and made the discovery.  Now every 10 seconds or so I'm charging forward and causing a giant earthquake of powered up landslides to shake the world behind me. It feels like this druid build is finally sexy. It just took me until, oh, 75th level or so to realize how to use it good.

As far as the game itself for me lately, well, it's ok. It kind of feel like everything has become a grind and a guessing game of how-hard-is-too-hard when it comes to nightmare dungeons.

Got all my regions done now. WOOT!

Like, I CAN'T survive Tier 50 dungeons with level 100 enemies. On the other hand, I can somewhat survive in Tier 40 dungeons, but it's mostly deaths . . . certain enemies just smoke me. 

Actually ran into a bug in this Tier 40 dungeon . . . the boss to open the door was behind it.

I can mostly complete Tier 30 dungeons although it can be hit and miss . . . I mean, the enemies are still 10 levels higher than me after all.  But Tier 20 dungeons feel like I'm not trying hard enough? It's really about trying to find that sweet spot here for a level 75 druid who just discovered his sexy.

This Tier 32 wasn't too horrible at all.

The quest for gear has become a bit frustrating at this point. I kind of don't like having to look at every piece of ancestral gear and making sure I'm not throwing away something great that might just be slightly under the power of my current gear. I'd rather have brainless selling and salvaging. I want the game to do a better job of telling me a piece of gear is better, but I guess that's part of the "fun."

I'm starting to feel like I'm almost to the point where I stop playing this druid and play another class, but I'm not quite there yet. Also, now that I know what I like about this build, I could apply it to a hardcore druid and have an easier time riding the content as far as I dare.

Either way, I'm pretty sure I've got my value out of purchasing Diablo IV.  If I stopped playing completely as of this moment, I'd feel ok with that. 

. . . there are a ton of other games to play after all. *cough* several VR games purchased and sitting un-played currently *cough*

Happy Dueling!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Level 71 -- Diablo with a side of DDOS

When I worked at KingsIsle, it always sucked when Wizard101 would get DDOS'd. Most attacks were so easily dealt with that no one even noticed, but a couple of times it was so terrifying that it brought the game to a screeching halt. People assumed "weak security" was the reason we couldn't deal with the crushing spam, but they'd be wrong. No, the ones that hit hard were always pretty sophisticated attacks, but, eventually, with some ingenuity on our side it always got dealt with, and then as a company we always made things right with our customers. And so it goes . . . 

Circle round to yesterday when Blizzard was being DDOS'd, my heart went out to them. Dude, a Sunday morning DDOS attack is such a jerk move. Awful. Thanks for ruining the weekend of some hardworking devs. 

Anyway, the downtime was actually pretty minimal in the long run, but the term "DDOS" actually started to trend on Twitter yesterday morning because it was riling up so many people. Blizzard managed to stem the tide of whatever digital mess was headed their way, but it certainly must have been a band-aid. There's live maintenance going on today and tomorrow, and my theory is that whatever is happening today is their implementation of a more permanent fix. 

Hopefully that interruption during gameplay is minimal!

As for a reason why the attacks happened, your guess is as good as Cyber Security Hub's guess.  It was probably just Blizzard hate in general.

DDOS or not, I was still able to log on and play a lot since my last posting when I was level 65. I'm now on to level 71 and have been doing a lot of open world play in Torment difficulty!

Mainly my play has been centered around Helltides, World Bosses, World Events, finishing up two more of the five regions. Those World Events are pretty great for XP gain btw. It was typically a fourth of a level for one quick five minute event.  Totally worth it and the gear drops were always really nice to have as a reward.

So satisfying when all that loot drops

Those Helltides feel absolutely needed for changing up your gear stats btw.  Every piece of gear I've gotten has been "almost" perfect and to change those up, you typically need fiend roses, which you'll have a higher chance of finding in Helltides.

I'm still using my Landslide Druid / Companion skills to great effect. It's been fun to play and I have a lot of motivation going to make this build something special. I still don't feel like I've perfected it yet.  Maybe by the time I'm level 100 I'll have it all figured out. hehe.

BTW, my stable is full of horses now because of all these bosses and events. I'll probably just stick with my "burn-victim" horse skin because it's the rarest of the bunch, but pretty neat to have all these skins available to me.

Six skins, but I'll stick with ol' trusty burn-victim horse.

Happy Dueling! 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Me and All my Earthen Devastation in Diablo IV

So, with A LOT of help from a friend, I was able to get passed the capstone dungeon in Tier III, and my druid is now in Tier IV . . . aka THE TORMENT. Whew. It felt a bit like cheating since I didn't solo the boss, but, hey, at least I soloed everything up to the boss! hehe.

That said, now that I'm in Tier IV, I'm finding myself bouncing back to Tier III here and there at level 65. Tree of Whispers and World Boss events? I'm on Tier IV getting the good drops.  Dungeons? I'm on Tier III. 

Love my whole bird-man aesthetic.

Doing that method I was able to secure a few ancestral gear drops out in the Tier IV world, which really helped amp my DPS.  I am a bit discouraged however since I had to drop my favorite one-handed weapon/Totem set up that worked wonders for me up until this point. On the other hand, I now have a sick 2-hander Staff that's working pretty great once I found a way to speed up my basic attack speed. 

Currently it feels like I can knock out a Tier 18/19 Nightmare dungeon in about 15-20 minutes, which feels pretty great to me. Eventually the hope is that I can just sprint through stuff and clean it up in 10 minutes or less. I need more health if I'm going to do that though.

I'm sticking it out with my Earth/Companion combo playstyle, but I have to admit, there isn't really a lot that's sexy about this build. I had a glimmer of sexy hope when I found the Boulder core skill aspect that I had found way back in beta, but I discovered that, while it's fun to push stuff around constantly, it really just feels kind of awful with the build I'm running.  Why would I want to push stuff away from me like that instead of bringing it all in for a bit of crushing/poisoning goodness?

Behold the Earthen Devastation!

I am trying my best with the build though! I managed to make it up to the legendary node on the Earth Skill paragon board and get some extra chunky goodness. The paragon point boards are totally working great for my player motivation by the way.  I want to finish out all my region renown so I can snag those extra 20 paragon points for doing so. I NEED MORE PARAGON POINTS!

Fractured Peaks Progress . . . DONE! Now for the other four

Hope y'all who are playing Diablo IV are having as much fun with the game as I am! Drop me a message and let me know how things are going for you in game. I'd love to hear what classes and combos you've found to be fun. Happy to see the Syp is representing the Necromancers for me. I'm waiting until Team Spode shows more of an interest in the game to play my beloved necro class personally.

Happy Dueling!  

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Diablo IV Ding 60 -- By Hope's Light!

I had a nice, long weekend that allowed me to get all kinds of stuff done. I got the lawn mowed, watched a couple movies with the family (The new Flash movie was pretty great), received some Father's Day love from the crew, and . . . yes . . . played a really good amount of Diablo IV. 

By the way, the fam gave me a 24x36 canvas print of me, as a friendly necromancer. I laughed for several minutes. Its' epic. Reminds me of a self-portrait that would be commissioned by one of the Vampires from What We Do in the Shadows.

Come, Friends! Let us enjoy some death together!

Sometime yesterday I hit 60th level on my eternal druid while undertaking the hunt for all the Lilith statues in the game. I did indeed track down all 160 of them! Some of them were pretty well hidden too! You really had to be listening for the Lilith statue hum and small glow of red light to find a few of these. The guides are great, but sometimes a little grey icon on a map just isn't enough.

The Alter of Lilith near Hope's Light

I also finished off all the strongholds and discovered one particular stronghold that I will now proudly proclaim is my favorite of the 15 you can conquer on the world map. Up at the tip top of the map in the area of Scosglen is a series of shipwrecks and islands known at Hope's Light. 

It's a lot of ducking, jumping, sliding, and scooching your way to victory

By the end of Hope's Light you will have lowered the mast on two different ships, killed a bunch of elites and maneuvered your way to a lighthouse guarded by a terrifying sea hag. The graphics are doing that rainy coastal thing and the lighting is sparking up light a lightning storm.

Beware the greasy bubbles from the Tidewitch!

Truly my favorite stronghold in the game. I'd love a full dungeon experience of Hope's Light, and who knows, there may be one and I just haven't done it yet. I've only done a small portion of the 120 dungeons available to me.

Speaking of dungeons, Nightmare dungeons are the big challenges I'm facing lately. I've tried all the way up to Tier 20 so far, and that particular Tier 20 was just too much for me. You only get 12 revives in a Nightmare Dungeon, and I failed that at the final boss. I kept hoping to see amazing gear dropping in the Tier 20 dungeon, but I didn't get anything astounding for my gear repair bill. 

I've got a theory going that part of the gear drop equation must also be based on your character level.  If that's the case, leveling would be king.

Anyway, just this morning I finished up a Tier 17 without much difficulty, so I'm getting closer to Tier 20 completion. I think once I'm there at Tier 20, and feeling good about my performance, then perhaps it will once again be time to try the nightmare capstone dungeon.

Shouldn't Tier 17 give some epic loot? Nada.

Oh yeah, I tried the nightmare capstone at level 58, and got my butt handed to me by the boss, so I'm not quite there yet. Per instructions on the world statue, really Nightmare mode should last you to level 70, but I'm getting antsy after a few levels of no gear upgrades. It's not for trying, mind you. My inventory is stuffed with legendary gear and salvaged aspects.

It's a lot . . .

I've started to salvage or grab aspects from any gear that's lower than 600 gear rating currently.  I'm going to bump that rule up by 10 gear points every time my gear holding chest slot hits max.  It's good to have self-imposed rules like that when you're a hoarder by nature. hehe.

All-in-all, I'm still having a great time with Diablo IV. Hopefully I'll have a new update for you soon where I've finally entered Tier IV difficulty on my Druid and I can report back his awesomeness.

Happy Dueling!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Stingite and the Diablo IV Nightmare

I continue to log on to Diablo IV here and there on pretty much a daily basis. My play time is mostly like an hour in the morning and a hour or two at night. I'd say that's pretty healthy for a self-proclaimed "fast one of the slow bunch," right? I'M MILD-MIDCORE MAN!

Behold the mighty midcore man's outfit!

I'm finding that my play objectives have been pretty random here in Nightmare difficulty. Sometimes I'll log on and knock out a bunch of sidequests. Sometimes I'll log on and go Lilith statue hunting. Sometimes I'll do Tree of Whispers stuff. Sometimes I'll do a nightmare dungeon.  It's a mishmash of stuff. I'm all over the place!

As long as good loot is involved, I'm there!

Looking at my collections, I've hit 19% of the dungeons and done 27% of the challenges. There's plenty left to do. In fact, I'm kind of amazed at how many sidequests there actually are in the game. It's crazy!

It's all about the challenges!

I'm still digging my button-mashy loadout for druid. I keep waiting to get a crazy game changing gear aspect, and nothing has really grabbed me too hard at this point. Speaking of that, I probably should be more excited about the sacred unique chest item that dropped for me. It's pretty cool in that it puts me in werebear form ALL the time.

Ooo! The Insatiable Fury!

I'm sure there's a build out there somewhere (like here) that capitalizes on being in werebear form 100 percent of the time, but I really like my Earth/Summoner thing I got going on. Stuff has been melting pretty good for me and I feel super cozy in my protective earth shields and bubbles.

What I probably need to do is sit down and really figure out EXACTLY how to make this build sing and see if I can work it out on paper. I wouldn't mind coming up with a decent build myself. But, sadly there probably isn't a great way to do that, and if there was, the hardcore people would have done it already. LOL. This isn't really a job for mild midcore man.

The one thing I haven't done much of is World Bosses, which I should be better about. The world boss schedule just hasn't been aligning with my playtimes lately. I'll have to track spawn times and commit to it.

So, there you go. Things have been a bit directionless, but there's still plenty to do in DiabloIV. I'm digging it.  BTW, if you're looking for some great advice, check out Belghast's tips!  I've been using his links there to help me find Lilith statues.  Good stuff.

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Diablo IV Campaign Completion . . . What's Next?

So, after my rocky start back in pre-release, I've been taking it a little safer, and a little slower. I put my Hardcore character dreams on hold and instead focused on finishing the campaign story mode with my Eternal character.  I did that just this afternoon and promptly logged off for a bit.


It's kind of fitting I went to Hell in the game today because it feels hot as H-E-double-toothpicks in my house right now. The AC started leaking and a puddle of water dripped through the drywall in our garage late last night. I'm at the whims of the AC Repair guy currently, who can only make it out "sometime" tomorrow. There was no better estimate than that unfortunately. The AC is off and our house temperatures are rising in the Texas heat.

As for Diablo IV, what a great game! That was a lot of fun to work though. The cut scenes were fantastic and beautiful. The story was well told. The combat was action packed. It'll continue to entertain me for a while to come. I'm happy with my purchase.

I'll get there. I'll get there. Sheesh!

It took until about level 30 or so before Legendary items started to drop for me, but by the end of the campaign, I had legendary gear in pretty much every slot save the helm and gloves. To top things off, the final battle of the game dropped a unique ring that I immediately equipped.

Behold the Mother's Embrace!

The druid build I ended up running focused on earth-magic-based core and defensive skills and companions and was incredibly button-mashy easy to run.

  • Slot 1: Earthen Bulwark (rank 1/5) with Enhanced and Innate sub-skills
  • Slot 2: Ravens rank (2/5) with Enhanced and Ferocious sub-skills
  • Slot 3: Poison Creeper (rank 3/5) with Enhanced and Ferocious sub-skills
  • Slot 4: Wolves (rank 3/5) with Enhanced and Ferocious sub-skills
  • Left Click: Earth Spike (rank 4/5) with Enhanced and Primal sub-skills
  • Right Click: Landslide (rank 4/5)  with Enhanced and Fierce sub-skills

For passive skills I had

  • 1 rank in Ancestral Fortitude and Vigilance
  • 3 ranks in Call of the Wild
  • 1 rank in Crushing Earth and Stone Guard with 3 ranks in Safeguard
  • 2 ranks in Defensive Posture, Thick Hide, Unrestrained, and Nature's Resolve

Key Passive was Earthen Might

Spirit Boons were as follows:

  • Advantageous Beast Spirit Deer Boon
  • Spirit Attacks Spirit Eagle Boon
  • Packleader and Energize Spirit Wolf Boon
  • Obsidian Slam Spirit Snake Boon

The "helpful" Legendary Gear buffs that I managed to secure for my build were:

  • Damage from Earth Skills slow enemies by 40% for 5 seconds
  • Heal for 11 life per second for each close enemy up to 104 life per second
  • While Unstoppable and for 4 seconds afterward, gain 10% move speed and freely move through enemies
  • Gain 1 additional companion. In addition your companion skills deal 15% bonus damage.
  • When hit when not healthy, a magical bubble is summoned around you for 4.5 seconds. While standing in the bubble players are immune. Can occur once every 90 seconds.
  • Gain 19 of your primary resource for every 15% life that you heal.

It made things pretty easy to just mash 1-2-3-4 and alternate right click and left click. Things tended to die, and I tended to not die.  TENDED, to not die.  I mean, I'm really glad this was an eternal character. I died a handful of times while on my way to the end. Sometimes you just get overwhelmed by exploding and high DPS enemies . . . even with all those defensive skills burning.

Mashin' buttons like a crazy person!

So, the hope is now that I'll be able to go back through the game, beat all the dungeons, find all the Lilith statues, complete all the fortresses, fight all the world bosses, and do the game all over again in nightmare and hell difficulty. AND, have fun while doing it.

I'd also like to work my hardcore character up now that I've had a bit more experience. I think I'm a little better now in recognizing the really scary enemies, and hopefully I can catch up to where my eternal character is currently sitting. HOPEFULLY! Fingers crossed!

I can reach 46 in Hardcore . . . right? RIGHT?!?!

There's tons to do, and I can't wait to do it all.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, June 5, 2023

My Pre-launch Diablo IV Weekend Review

Follow on post here to the one from a couple days ago. I spent a bunch of time on Saturday working up my third shot at a hardcore Druid build for Diablo IV only to face a terrible defeat.  My whole Saturday Diablo play time was just a wash because of this.

I can't even remember what enemy it was that killed me, but I think it was 3 big dudes with big axes that stunned me and then the mob of smaller dudes with smaller axes chewed me up to pieces before I could heal and dash away. 

Ahh, looks like it was a level 32 Ice Clan Mauler. Shrug.

Up until that point though, things were going great with that hardcore Druid! My highest level attempt yet! Once I started hitting those dungeons to level and gear up, things got a lot more manageable. 

There's 8 hours and 40 minutes I won't get back. LOL

I also spent a chunk of Saturday just waiting in a broken Queue.  That was fun.

Start Game Pending would make a great guild name.

Sunday I started up my fourth shot at a hardcore Druid build, but I decided that I might as well start leveling my eternal character while I was at it. 

So that's kind of where I sit currently as we approach the final hour of my bonus pre-purchase play time. I have a 26th level Eternal Druid, and my fourth hardcore druid attempt is sitting at 16th level.

This dude has a stellar homeless look, don't you think?

I can't say that I've found a lot of amazing gear so far. I think I do have my favorite early build of Druid down for sure. I've landed on 3 pets combined with all earth skills while using a single handed axe and a totem.  It's working for me so far.  Lots of stunning. Lots of fortitude. At some point I'm going to have to swap something out to use an ultimate skill, but the recharge on those ultimates just isn't great.

You know, I haven't looked at any suggested builds yet and to be honest, with how low level I am, I'm not sure if they really apply yet. Not really a fan of having someone else figure out the best build for me anyway.

. . . and as for today? Well today was work, so I didn't get anything much done at all aside from some early morning pre-work play.  Meh.

And there you have it! I guess we'll see the rest of you here in just about an hour! Bring on the long queues! Welcome to Diablo IV!

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Finding my Path in the Diablo IV Prelaunch

OMG -- everybody is freaking out!  Diablo IV!  People are screaming and running out of their houses naked with flame throwers! LILITH IS MY GRANDMOTHER! . . . and I'm there for it. I've got my druid hat on, and I ain't taking it off until the world returns to normal again. Can it return to normal again? THE WORLD HAS CHANGED FOREVERRRRRR!


Ok, so, yeah, I sprung for the $100 version of the game and was like, I'm all in for this. Day one of the pre-release, I was anxiously waiting for 6:00pm to hit so I could log on. Oh . . . wait a second, no I wasn't.  I was headed to my friend's house to play a game of Pathfinder.

First time playing Pathfinder was on Thursday, y'all!  It wasn't bad. A friend of mine got the big fat 640-page rules book and we started on some basic adventure with pre-made characters. I was an old wizard that liked to give everyone nicknames and cast ray of frost a lot. So there you have it. I didn't spend Day one of pre-release even playing my $100 version of the game. I was eating taki-flavored potato chips and humus while nerding out with my local old dudes crew.

Day two of pre-release, well, ok, I played a good chunk of Diablo IV, and I even have two dead hardcore druid characters to prove it. I'm getting super good at skipping the dialog cut-scenes at the beginning of the game now. My Escape Key is getting a work out.

Amassing a nice dead druid collection

My problem is that I'm taking on dungeon bosses I have no business taking on when I don't know the strats very well yet because I either didn't look it up or I just forgot how the mechanics worked from Beta. With a hardcore character that's feeling a bit under-geared, I probably should just be doing safe stuff for a while.  

The level 15 hardcore druid that died feels like a tragic tale. I actually had the perfect thing happen in a dungeon. I found The Butcher standing right next to a Conduit Shrine and got my first legendary item. A ring that buffed a skill. WHAT LUCK! The very next battle I came into a boss that stunned, and I got overwhelmed while stunned and died. WHAT BAD LUCK!

The level 11 hardcore druid that died was to the Den Mother. I had no business being there yet. I tried the old log-out trick while you hadn't died yet when I was 4 healing potions down, and it didn't work. I logged back in to a dead character. HAHA! I suck at this game.

Long Live Eternal Stingite the Druid!

Strangely enough, my level 16 eternal druid hasn't died once yet, and he's just fun to play, I don't feel any pressure with him. I should play my hardcore druid like I play him.

So there you have it. I've got 42 levels between three characters. (Um, two of which who are dead) And I'm chilling in Diablo IV and looking forward to a Saturday full of . . . well, probably grocery store trips and chores to be honest, but I'm going to get as much Diablo IV play as I can here on Day 3 of pre-launch. I highly doubt I'll be anywhere near one of the first 1000 to reach level 100 in this game. I know my place, and that's in the real world playing Pathfinder and going to the grocery store.

. . . I am having fun though, and that's all that matters. :)

Happy Dueling!