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January 10th, 2006


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12:31 pm - smashing videogame cliche left and right
You know, I've played Diablo 2 off and on since, oh, 2000. Each time I take at least one character through the game in both Normal and Nightmare mode. Sometimes two, if I'm infatuated with the game long enough. If I'm not playing with friends I already know, I play solo. I venture into Hell when I'm good and ready but honestly, after the resist-fest that is nightmare, I don't get very far.

But in all that time, I don't think I've ever seen a single solitary Stone of Jordan drop or show up in a gamble.

So much for "u giev soj", eh.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:antikythera
Date:January 10th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
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audioboy and I once had three in our shared possession, I think. One was given to us by someone unloading unwanted swag, and the other two we found ourselves.

We gave up on those characters because we hit a wall in Hell too. They've probably expired by now, and the SoJs died with them. We're having better luck with them now that we have specific plans for allocating skill points (as opposed to just dropping them into whatever looks cool at the time).
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 10th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
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I have purposefully avoided many many many in-depth character guides, especially ones written by the yammering morons at GameFAQs, simply because I don't want to feel paranoid whilst playing and thinking "Oh hell, what does the strategy guide want me to do at this point?" I also don't like feeling that if I don't do as a guide suggests, I'm playing the game wrong.
[User Picture]
From:antikythera
Date:January 10th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Oh, definitely... most of those are written either for duelling other characters, or just for getting the highest numbers in the 'damage' box, like souping up a car. It's about bragging rights more than practical play. Geeks can be macho too. ^^;

That said, my own experience is that building up a character's skills at random is going to mean that at higher levels, he doesn't have one single strong skill, so he starts to run into monsters that he just can't beat fast enough. (My last character was slapped together this way, and he ended up at level 86 and unable to get past Act IV Hell.) Apparently this has gotten worse because the new patch has made the upper levels more difficult.

This time around, what seems to be working is just choosing a few favourite skills, and putting all the skill points into those and their prerequisites. It concentrates the damage. I haven't used any strategy guide or "expert" player's customised build; I just looked at the skill trees on the battle.net website, picked the skills I wanted to rely on, and stuck to those. Or tried to. Even though I've strayed a bit from the plan, he's still doing much better at this level than he was the last time I built him.

The differences between one superbuild and another are petty and won't make much of a difference in regular PvM gameplay, but the difference between having even a vague self-styled plan and having no plan at all seems to be tipping the balance in favour of actually completing the game.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 10th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
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I admit my patchwork strategy in the past has been level up what you feel you lacked the most in the previous level. Kept running out of mana? By all means, pump that up now that you've got the chance. Got something with a STR/DEX requirement in your stash? Work for it!

After playing enough Assassin, Barbarian and Druid, I know which skills I want to focus on with them, and which I can just put one point in to get it out of the way and open up the next tier. Oh how I loves me my kicking assassin.
[User Picture]
From:antikythera
Date:January 10th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Wooo. I never had much luck with kicking assassins. Their defense is crappy, and they have to be close to whatever they're fighting. I've heard of some fantastic damage being done with boots, though.
[User Picture]
From:antikythera
Date:January 10th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and: for stuff like mana, it is so worth it to load up your armor and weapons with skulls, so that it regenerates and/or replenishes when you hit stuff. 'Splodeymancer was starting to forget what the little blue bottles tasted like.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 10th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)
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That's part of what makes the kicky assassin so nice. With three buildup orbs of the right type and a kick, you can make up a lot of lost mana. I got very good at getting into a three left-click, one right-click rhythm.

My noobler barb on USEast right now ran into a "+1 to mana after every kill" axe on the way to the Forgotten Tower in Act 1. As Double Strike takes 1 mana and he has the opportunity to hit two targets in one swing, he's replenishing himself with the little one-shot critters as he goes along. Sure, it's Act 1 Normal, but for now, the game is Bery Bery Good to him.
[User Picture]
From:jimmystagger
Date:January 10th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
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You need to play Return To Castle Wolfenstein: Tides Of War. Got it for Xmas, this is some addictive shit. Crazy Nazi arcane dark arts experiments, zombies, SS agents, lots of great weapons (anti-tank rockets? Oh yes), and tons of missions that get more insane as you go along.

From:lno
Date:January 10th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
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Tides of War? What's this? I played RTCW when it came out like the loyal fanboy I am, and even played more than my share of RTCW: Enemy Territory. How come no one told me about Tides of War, eh? EH?
[User Picture]
From:jimmystagger
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
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Tides Of War just came out I'm fairly sure. BJ is sent with Agent One first to Egypt to look into (and of course by "look into" I mean "kill everything") the Nazis' "Paranormal Division" and from there on out you go back to the Castle and kill all manner of SS troops, officers, zombies, mummies, and eventually King Heinrich I.

[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 10th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
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You had me at "crazy."
[User Picture]
From:ooshiny
Date:January 11th, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
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I never got one, either. I haven't played it in some time but my last character was almost through Hell mode and I still hadn't seen one.
From:sanityfaerie
Date:January 27th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)

SoJs

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The Stone is one of the best uniques in the game. Once upon a time, it was also the most common unique in the game. Back when uniques were fairly commong out of the gambling halls, high-level characters would burn off gold gambling for SoJs. A certain amount of time put in on gaining gold and a certain amount put in on gambling (and one each of the other two unique rings to make sure that "unique ring" meant "SoJ") and you could be pretty much guaranteed of getting one or two. They were pretty portable, easily traded, and worth more money than most characters could carry, so they became the basis of the high-level player economy (Aside from some messing around with gems, and the occasional one-off trade, a low-level player economy didn't really exist at that point, nor has it since.) Of course, since there are so many of them, they're also eminently dupable. They faucet got turned off with the expansion pack, but the residual SoJs in the economy persisted for *years*.

Doing *really* well in the endgame involves having a plan, to be sure, but it also requires that your plan be based on reasonably functional skills. No one's going to get much of anywhere with a primary attack based on Teeth or ravens, and picking good skills as your primary damage-dealers rather than mediocre ones (particularly for the sorceress and elemental druid) can make a pretty big difference. That's more a matter of reading in-game spoilers and basic math than checking out tha buildzz online, though.

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