How To Run Greater Rifts Efficiently Guide

Last updated on Nov 01, 2017 at 21:02 by Deadset 10 comments

There are three core activities in Adventure Mode, the gameplay mode where you will spend the majority of your playtime: Bounties, Regular ("Nephalem") Rifts, and Greater Rifts. Greater Rifts are considered the "endgame" of the three, a challenging mode where you funnel all of your character development efforts.

Greater Rifts take on the randomization of Regular Rifts, but remove all loot and interactive objects in favor of pure fighting, all the way to the Greater Rift Guardian. Defeating him yields all the spoils earned from the clear, and then some. With their uniquely scaling difficulty, Greater Rifts reward builds that balance offense and defense to their practical limits, in order to overcome monsters that are significantly tougher than the player's character.


Rewards from Greater Rifts

Greater Rifts are the only place you can obtain legendary gems and upgrade them. With a fresh character, every new completed Greater Rift will reward you with one legendary gem, until you fill your entire collection (the only exception to this rule is Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder — read about it in the regular rifts article). Urshi, the NPC that spawns after killing the Greater Rift Guardian, will be your source of legendary gem upgrades — but only if you finished the GR within the 15 minute timer. As a base, you get three chances to upgrade your gem. You gain an additional chance if you do not die even once inside the GR, and prior to starting the GR you can choose to pay gold to "empower" for yet another gem upgrade chance upon successful completion. The success of gem upgrades is displayed with a percentage based on the difference of GR level vs. current gem level:

  • 100% upgrade chance for a 10 level difference;
  • 90% chance for 9;
  • 80% chance for 8;
  • 70% chance for 7;
  • 60% chance for a difference of 6 to 0 levels;
  • 30% chance for -1;
  • 15% chance for -2;
  • 8% chance for -3;
  • 4% chance for -4;
  • 2% chance for -5;
  • 1% chance for -6;
  • 0% chance for -7;

Since Greater Rifts are able to scale much higher in difficulty than other content and experience gain is increased in proportion with it, GRs naturally become the place to farm Paragon levels. The streamlined gameplay loop of killing monsters and only being rewarded at the very end facilitates the XP grind even better.

Successful completion of a solo Greater Rift increases your Blood Shard cap (from the base 500) by 10 per level. Note that this only occurs when setting your new personal best — not every run! Nevertheless, it puts a decent incentive to pushing your GR limits regularly, since the demand for a higher Blood Shard cap grows organically with character power.

Last but not least, Greater Rifts are the major leaderboard-driven activity in Diablo 3, and certainly the one with the widest recognition. Every class has its own soloing leaderboard, and there are cross-class multiplayer leaderboards for 2-, 3- and 4-man pushes. Naturally, leaderboards are also split between Seasonal and Non-Seasonal, as well as Softcore and Hardcore.


How to do Greater Rifts Efficiently

Since entrance to Greater Rifts is limited by the number of your keystones, it is a good idea to know your desired outcome from them going in. To help you get a better understanding, Greater Rift runs are (very roughly) split into three tiers: Low Tier Speedfarm, Mid Tier Farming and High Tier Progression.

  • Low Tier Speedfarm covers the GR bracket from 1 all the way to 70, which is where complete builds start needing a modest amount of gear perfection to progress. The goal of Low Tier Speedfarm (or "lowers" as they are often called) is primarily to acquire decent gear and farm your earliest Legendary gem levels and Paragons. The benefits of "lowers" is that they can be ran in any party composition — including the common early Season tactic of 4-man, 1 class DPS stacking for lootsharing.
  • Mid Tier Farming begins roughly around the 70-80 range, and is fluid on its upper end depending on the progression of the Season — likely ending in the lower 100s towards the end. The goals of Mid Tier Farming (referred to as "speeds") are primarily Paragon levels, moderate gem upgrades and leveling extra gems for Caldesann enchants. This is the most common type of run you will encounter past the first week or so, and it requires a minimum of one Support to protect his DPS allies. In turn, the DPS are more restricted in build choice and will have to run efficient, meta-appropriate builds.
  • High Tier Progression generally begins at 90+ for solo attempts and 105+ for groups. However this is a highly personal tier and solely depends on the individual or group running it — it only has two purposes, perfecting Legendary gems and placing on the Leaderboard. This tier implies pushing your gear, skill and knowledge of the game to their limits, and its time-consuming nature makes it highly inefficient for any other purpose. In groups, this tier also requires strict adherence to the meta, running 2 Supports and 2 DPS — one AoE and one single target.

The Importance of Pylons

Pylons are far more powerful than their Shrine cousins and can spawn in GRs, but are balanced with a shorter duration. Their well-timed use on a good spawn can be decisive for a successful GR pushing attempt. You can get between 2-4 Pylons per Greater Rift total, with no duplicates.

The first factor in Pylon spawning is your progression percentage. A rule of thumb formula for Pylon occurrence chance is 3 * progress % since the previous Pylon, but without ever reaching 100% — there is always a chance for a failure to spawn.

The second important factor is your current location on the map. Pylons do not just occur anywhere, they have fixed spots in the various tilesets that they have a chance to spawn on. Try to make mental points of places you see them spawn, i.e. the circular intersection of Plague Tunnel maps, the upper right room of Cathedral maps, T-sections of Crypt maps, etc.

These two factors combined are important to internalize because by using them together, you can "force" the spawn of a Pylon through game mechanics. Knowing that you have made a good chunk of progress and intentionally saving a "blind spot" on the map to explore (that you know a Pylon can occur in from experience) can yield a Rift-defining pickup.

Using the actual Pylons can be as tricky as obtaining them. The importance and timing of Pylons can vary wildly from build to build, but the following can still serve as a general guideline of their use:

  • Power Pylon lasts for 30 seconds and increases your damage by 400%. This is a dealbreaker Pylon during pushing attempts and is almost universally used on the Rift Guardian. If the Guardian is not yet present, you can try to save a pack of enemies near the Pylon and continue with the rift, and then come back to finish them off at an appropriate % remaining to spawn the RG next to the Pylon. Before you grab it, appraise the strengths of your build and try to take it once you have the most damage (stacked Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, set damage bonuses, oncoming Convention of Elements Convention of Elements cycle if applicable) and least interrupting factors (low resources, important cooldowns) present. A Guardian at ~70% health is an acceptable rule of thumb.
  • Conduit Pylon lasts for 30 seconds and shoots out arcs of lightning that branch to different targets, striking 5-10 times per second. Conduit hits deal a fixed amount of damage, unaffected by player damage, buffs and debuffs. It is the mirror to Power, in the sense that it is preferred on during the Rift clear rather than the Guardian.
  • Channeling Pylon lasts for 30 seconds, reduces all cooldowns by 75% and removes all resource costs (except for skills that explicitly state they drain all resource). This pylon is of varying strength depending on your build, and can range from vital (on CD-heavy builds) to near useless (generator builds).
  • Speed Pylon lasts for 60 seconds, increases movement speed by 100% and attack speed by 30%, and allows you free passage through enemies and Waller affixes (similarly to Illusory Boots Illusory Boots). You also knock enemies up as you pass through them. This is a utility-heavy gem that allows you to skip entire sections or even floors of a Rift and lets you control the enemies you engage with the knockup. If your build is attack speed-oriented, it also doubles as a significant DPS boost. On the Rift Guardian, it increases the rate of Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken stacking.
  • Shield Pylon lasts for 60 seconds and grants immunity to all incoming damage and crowd control (except for displacement effects such as Wormhole). The pylon is most useful in conjunction with a DPS-oriented pylon, i.e. it can be combined with a Conduit for a fearless, devastating dive into a clump of elites. The pylon is least useful for builds that rely on controlled intake of damage (i.e. Necromancers with Blood is Power Blood is Power, Wizards with Illusionist Illusionist, or Demon Hunters running a Shi Mizu's Haori Shi Mizu's Haori build).

The Importance of Monster and Elite Composition

The randomized nature of Greater Rifts coupled with the scaling difficulty of monsters can produce some wildly different results in similar GR tiers. You might have an easy time setting a personal record in an open, densely populated rift with good progression monsters and favorable pylon spawns, and then not even be able to finish a run on a narrow corridor, with low progression but dangerous mobs and nary a pylon in sight — all on the same GR tier. For better or worse, this places a huge importance on the so-called "fishing": poking your head in a rift, looking at the layout and monster composition, and restarting if it is bad — rinse and repeat.

Without looking to be exhaustive, there are a couple of general rules when evaluating trash monsters.

  • Be wary of monsters that are able to generate distance from you, either by running away (i.e. Moon Clan Shaman goats, Vile Revenant ghosts, Quill Fiend porcupines, Hell Witch succubi, Dune Stinger bees, Burrowing Leaper beasts) or teleportation (Morlu Incinerator mages, Serpent Magus snakes) — they can waste precious time, and should only be actively engaged in a larger pack of melee monsters.
  • Keep the positioning of high damage, bursty trash monsters in mind at all times, and be ready to skip or dodge as necessary. Their most dangerous forms come in two basic variations: hard hitting ranged monsters (Moon Clan Impaler spearmen, Bogan or Lacuni ambushers, Exorcist or Ghastly Seraph elemental undead, Chilling or Smoldering Constructs) or hard-hitting chargers (Horned Charger bulls, Corrupted Angel maulers, Hulking Phasebeast or Oppressor demons). There is another notable outlier in the category, the on-death explosion of Grotesque undead — internalize its radius an keep well away.
  • Try to lead fights in and around slow moving, high value trash monsters. Examples of these include the mace-wielding Colossal Golgor, spiked Unburied, Maggot Brood spawners, Demonic Tremor hulks, and many others. Be wary of some of the high damage specimens in this category, such as Mallet Lord smashers or Armaddon stunners, as they can be more trouble than they are worth.
  • Be on high alert when facing monsters with strong debuff abilities. Enslaved Nightmare and Terror Demon fiends for example, apply curses that can cut down your toughness or healing in half with no way of fighting back, often followed by surprising, unavoidable burst. It usually pays off to skip trash packs that contain them.

Some of that advice also applies to evaluating elites with their affixes. Consider engagements with the following elite affixes carefully.

  • Juggernaut elites are almost universally skipped, as their immunity to crowd control (nullifying Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped, a valuable DPS gem) and slower movement (near impossible to attract into a big fight) make them a waste of player time.
  • Shielding elites temporarily become immune to damage, making you lose DPS and waste Crowd Control cooldowns. Pay extra attention to the currently shielded monster (as it circulates between members of the elite pack).
  • Teleporter and Wormhole elites can evade large parts of your DPS by displacing themselves, or you. This makes them harder to control and predict, but can still be killed as collateral damage.
  • Illusionist elites cause some confusion with the extra screen clutter, but more importantly can lag out the game when too many DoTs are going around.

The vast majority of the builds we offer have been created with solo Greater Rifting capability in mind. That being said, a much smaller pool of them will be capable of group Greater Rift progression. We currently recommend the following base comp:

And add one of the following for single target DPS:



  • 01 Nov. 2017: Added guide.
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