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Damien

Invoker Thorns Crusader

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In the skill overview it says 'consecration - frozen groud' (which is not even possible) and in the description it says you use 'consecration - bed of nails'. Took me a good few minutes to figure out what was going on. Quick fix might be a smart idea :)

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Guest Kelvarr

I just set up this build, and this is currently my strongest build yet.  I am able to solo Grift 64, which was up 6 from my previous best (HOTA Barbarian).  I still need a few more Ancient pieces (currently opting for non-Ancient due to more desirable rolls), but this build is very nice.  I should mention that I play on PS4.

 

I was wondering if anybody could chime in on the gems for this build?  Currently, I have the following:

Aquila Cuirass:  Ruby(3)

Pig Sticker:  Topaz

Invoker Pants:  Ruby, Amethyst

Traveler's Pledge:  Boyarski's Chip

Justice Lantern:  Bane of the Trapped

Compass Rose:  Bane of the Stricken

 

 

In particular, are the pants.  I have tried Ruby(2), Diamond(2), Amethyst(2), Ruby/Amethyst.  My observations seem to be:
Base Thorns:  ~272k

Ruby(2):  Lowest sheet armor (190M), lowest sheet recovery (16M)

Amethyst(2):  Mid-grade sheet armor (196M), Mid-grade recovery (16.6M), Highest sheet Thorns (275.5k)

Diamond(2):  Highest sheet armor (206M), Highest recovery (17.7M)

Ruby/Amethyst:  Obviously a mix.  Sheet armor (194M), Recovery (16.2M), Slight increase in sheet Thorns (274k)

 

I know that sheet numbers can/do lie and don't tell the whole story, but that's about all I have to go on.  I tested each combo in a lvl 60 Grift.  My observations seem to be that 2 Ruby's or 2 Amethyst's seem to proc about the same damage.  I see hits around 20B +/- 2B Dmg.  Diamond seems to be the worst, as I cannot recall many hits over 15B.  I definitely notice that Diamond(2) is the strongest defense though, as my health meter rarely dropped below 80%.  With the Ruby(2) or Amethyst(2), it dropped lower, but I can only recall 1 time it dropped below ~40% (that was with Ruby's).

 

Am I reading any of this right?  I am trying to optimize my gems, but I am genuinely confused as to which helps Thorns damage the most.  According to the Heart of Iron, Thorns is increased by 300% of Vitality (~9500).  According to the 2.3 patch notes:

  • Thorns damage is now increased by 100% of your primary stat damage bonus

 

My Strength is ~12.5k.  I guess my question is which helps more?  Is the 100% increase by the patch meaning that Thorns damage is increased by 12.5k?  Adding two Ruby's would add another 320?  Whereas adding two Amethysts would add 960 (320 * 300%)?

 

I know this is long, and thank you for reading.

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I know this is long, and thank you for reading.

 

No problem, in short - Vitality gems will never compete with Strength gems for added damage. Vitality assists damage provided by Strength and gear Thorns rolls, it cannot serve as a replacement. All in all, full rubies for best damage, full diamonds for best toughness. A split for a little of both.

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I know this is long, and thank you for reading.

 

No problem, in short - Vitality gems will never compete with Strength gems for added damage. Vitality assists damage provided by Strength and gear Thorns rolls, it cannot serve as a replacement. All in all, full rubies for best damage, full diamonds for best toughness. A split for a little of both.

 

 

So there is no point in using Amethysts at all?  I still don't understand the full effect of Strength on Thorns.

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So there is no point in using Amethysts at all?  I still don't understand the full effect of Strength on Thorns.

 

 

There is no point in slotting Amethysts if optimal damage is what you're after, yes. While it doesn't reflect in your sheet Thorns value, every point of Strength is a direct multiplier to your Thorns damage.

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Hey Deadset,

 

A couple of questions for this build of yours...

 

1. I noticed, that you dont use Bombardment as an active skill in your build. This will not give the Bombardment from the belt the Barrels of Spikes run - and thus not do much damage. I have taken Steed Charge off my build to make room for Bombardment, which also adds for a second burst of damage for elites/Guardians after popping Iron Skin. 

 

2. I'm playing Hardcore, so Indestructible is ofcourse a must for me, but I'm not sure, what will benefit me more for the 4th slot. Finery or Hold Your Ground. More offense or more defense. 

 

My build is not yet complete, as I have not found a Blood Brother yet, so I'm using The Mortal Drama in the cube instead to get double the amount of impact from Bombardment. Timed right that will give me 20 Barrels of Spikes. 10 from the active skill and 10 from the belt with quite awesome damage, if I may say. At least for my current build. More on that in the end...

 

I still lack 5 pieces compared to your build. All 3 jewelry pieces as well as weapon and shield. For weapon I'm using The Burning Axe of Sankis. Simply cause it's an Ancient one I have and gives some form of survivability from the chance of "fighting through the pain" and Coven's Criterion (45-60% less damage for blocked attacks) for shield as I found that as my best bet until I get the Akarat's Awakening. As for jewelry I'm just doing as much damage as I can until I get the right ones. Currently rolling with a Stone of Jordan and random Ancients.

 

Obviously playing Hardcore as mentioned does require me to make some sacrifice in the build. Dying is not really an option. I know this may not make a lot of sense as to dropping Steed Charge for Bombardment, but I just feel the extra damage gained from the run alone is worth it. :)

 

Currently I'm at Grift 49 (completed in 8 minutes) and working on it. How high would you think this build could go in Hardcore without too much hassle? 

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Hey Deadset,

 

A couple of questions for this build of yours...

 

...

 

Heya!

 

1. Indeed, Bombardment was not taken because there isn't a particular focus on its damage in this build (no Mortal Drama, no skill damage rolls, no Lord Commander passive...) It is only taken as means of Damage Reduction via Belt of the Trove. Lacking Steed Charge makes you less flexible when pushing, I feel that mobility is an important factor in GRs.

 

2. I would stick to Finery.

 

Without much hassle and good gear/paragons I would say this build will easily break GR75. When perfected and in full control of the playstyle, it'll pass 80.

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Guest Velociraptor

Have you ever considered Hack for this build in place of Pig Sticker? Or running Spiked Barding instead of Endurance for Steed Charge?

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Have you ever considered Hack for this build in place of Pig Sticker? Or running Spiked Barding instead of Endurance for Steed Charge?

 

Hack's unique property regrettably only applies to a single target, whereas the Sticker provides universally good stats. That being said, you can still use Hack in the 70s range of GRs.

 

Spiked Barding is an option for a little more damage, but will not make an impact in high GRs. I take Endurance to more efficiently seek out elites. You can use it in Torment farming though.

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Guest Benrix

Started my crusader this past weekend with an eye toward this build and to get the seasonal rewards. I haven't played D3 in a while so I solo'd to lvl70 without rushing and just started running normal rifts last night (so not much in the way of gear yet). I have admit I am pleasantly surprised!

 

Now that I have a few Grift stones I want to do some group runs with some (better equipped) friends and start getting some of the suggested gear.

 

Thanks Deadset for posting this build and info.

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Guest norQ

Hello Deadset,

 

I really like your build and the guide attached to it. It's clear, simple and creates a really enjoyable experience as far as the gameplay goes.

 

As you have already explained doubts concerning Hack I've few more question

 

1) Vo'toyias Spiker and Provoke - damage amplification from these two seems to be really effective; have you considered running it instead of Akarat's Awakening and (let's say) Laws of Justice?

 

2) As I looked at the Crusader ladder recently I quickly realised that almost every Crusader utilizes a build putting heavy weight on Bombardment and LoN set. (as it happens you're also the author of that one ;-) )  Can Punish/Thorns compete with that?

 

3) A bit off topic - I really like the idea of Phalanx bodyguards. With the addition of so many items synergizing with the Phalanx (like Kassar's Helmet) would it be possible to make it a viable thing? 

 

Cheers!

 

 

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Guest Velociraptor

 

Have you ever considered Hack for this build in place of Pig Sticker? Or running Spiked Barding instead of Endurance for Steed Charge?

 

Hack's unique property regrettably only applies to a single target, whereas the Sticker provides universally good stats. That being said, you can still use Hack in the 70s range of GRs.

 

Spiked Barding is an option for a little more damage, but will not make an impact in high GRs. I take Endurance to more efficiently seek out elites. You can use it in Torment farming though.

 

Thanks for the insight, Very helpful!

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Guest phil

i want to ask about the weapon , i was wondering if it wont be better the the HACK ,  which gives 100% thorn dmg on every attack ?

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Guest John Doe

i want to ask about the weapon , i was wondering if it wont be better the the HACK ,  which gives 100% thorn dmg on every attack ?

 

Cmon mate, just read the posts above yours...

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Guest norQ

Okay; 64 GR so far with relatively little time invested - doing pretty good; with Hack and Provoke shield though

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Started my crusader this past weekend with an eye toward this build and to get the seasonal rewards. I haven't played D3 in a while so I solo'd to lvl70 without rushing and just started running normal rifts last night (so not much in the way of gear yet). I have admit I am pleasantly surprised!

 

Now that I have a few Grift stones I want to do some group runs with some (better equipped) friends and start getting some of the suggested gear.

 

Thanks Deadset for posting this build and info.

Still running this build and having fun with it. Dropped a Flawless Royal Topaz into my Swiftmount and ran T9, GR37 and finished with ease last night. I made a hellfire amulet just to see what I would get and it not only has a socket, but gives me the fervor passive. So that opens up a passive slot for something else (except Heavenly Strength). Currently using Vigilant for the 20% non phyiscal dam reduction. Any suggestions for passives to run with my current build?

 

Starting to see a few ancient pieces drop but nothing I really wanna use....

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Any suggestions for passives to run with my current build?

 

Outside of the ones recommended in the guide, I would recommend Indestructible. If you feel like you're not taking enough damage to make a cheat death passive worth it, you can play around with Vigilant (as you already are), Long Arm of the Law (double the law duration - very effective toughness increase) and Holy Cause (minor increase to damage) to see which one you prefer.

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Started my crusader this past weekend with an eye toward this build and to get the seasonal rewards. I haven't played D3 in a while so I solo'd to lvl70 without rushing and just started running normal rifts last night (so not much in the way of gear yet). I have admit I am pleasantly surprised!

 

Still running this build and having fun with it. Dropped a Flawless Royal Topaz into my Swiftmount and ran T9, GR37 and finished with ease last night. I made a hellfire amulet just to see what I would get and it not only has a socket, but gives me the fervor passive. So that opens up a passive slot for something else (except Heavenly Strength). Currently using Vigilant for the 20% non phyiscal dam reduction. Any suggestions for passives to run with my current build?

I'm up to GR 47 with this build. Anything over that and I start dying a lot. Cannot seem to get an Akarat's Awakening to drop (sigh). I tried Indestructible on higher GR's (over 47) and even tho it saves me, I still tend to die before it resets. I put on belt of the trove and aquila curiass last night and that seems to help reduce damage a bit more. Can't seem to find a blood brother or convention of elements either....

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I'm up to GR 47 with this build. Anything over that and I start dying a lot. Cannot seem to get an Akarat's Awakening to drop (sigh). I tried Indestructible on higher GR's (over 47) and even tho it saves me, I still tend to die before it resets. I put on belt of the trove and aquila curiass last night and that seems to help reduce damage a bit more. Can't seem to find a blood brother or convention of elements either....

 

 

Keep at it! :) Belt of the Trove and Aquila will help a lot with Toughness. I can check your gear and give advice if you'd like, just post a link to your bnet character.

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I only played one game after adding Belt of the Trove and Aquila night before last. Played for a solid 4 hrs last night on T10. Ran normal rifts and GR's (up to 49 now!) farming for gear. On the next to last run (normal rift), CoE (ancient) and Akarat's Awakening both dropped. Check me out. Crusader

 

Only made one run after getting Akarat's Awakening (GR49). At first I wasn't real impressed, but I started to notice those cool down counters dropping much faster (esp. in big fights). I will probably really appreciate it the more I play.

 

I actually have the endless walk set, but I'm having a hard time turning loose of my hellfire amulet with the fervor passive. I had not tweaked the HF amulet until last night and got a really nice 5.7k thorns added to it. I'm not particularly hung up on the Occulus Ring, but I do step into that ring every chance I get.

 

I'm running long arm of the law right now and it really seems to work with my play style. I plan to try out indestructible and vigilant with this gear and as I run higher GR's to see how they work.

 

Overall it's still a great build and I feel like I'm progressing, just at a slower rate. 

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Great build, feels old school hack & slash.

 

Slightly nitpick questions about Paragon points:

As there is nothing that uses Wrath, should gold find come before RCR?

Also, Strength is listed as the 2nd core stat. Given that there is no cap of strength, Should I ever upgrade vitality, or just dump it all into strength forever?

 

Can't find the dang shield or blood brother, but I've hit GR55, and think I can go higher.

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Guest Humbe

Nice build. Hoping it might be a good build to push GR solo. For doing easy content, other builds with ranged AoE that can get overpowered at TX seems simpler/faster.

 

Managed to get all the items in no time using blood shards, smithing, cube upgrade from rare and cube transform set piece to other piece, in addition to jewelry I had laying around, though sadly with dex boost instead of strength. All I'm missing from the optimal pieces suggested is the pig sticker that I haven't found. But had a Hack laying around which works nicely at GR levels I'm at. Currently around GR50, but got some ways to go in order to get items rolling a decent combo of boosts and get jewelry with strength base.

 

But would like to understand more about mechanics of thorns build. Had a shield with almost 8000 thorns damage, but replacing it with Akarat's awakening that didn't roll thorns at all didn't seem to change my paper doll thorns much at all. It has high strength, but strength bonus isn't accounted for in paper doll stats as you say.

 

Some questions:

  - When does the 2 piece bonus proc to deal thorns to all within 15 yards? Every time any mob hit me from any range, all in 15 yard range, in addition to the mob doing the damage if further away than 15 yards, everyone will be hit by my thorns? From the wording I'm guessing this doesn't apply to thorns applied with hack or from punish and 6 set bonus.

  - Why isn't hack worth it at high GR? Is it because the 6 set bonus already does this x6 so it only adds 16% damage on these attacks?

  - Thorns from vitality and Heart of Iron. Is that X vitality adding X to the paperdoll thorns value (similar to an item giving X thorns), and then boosted by strength percentage bonus later?

  - Is pig sticker good just because it's fast, and having a fifth primary bonus? If so, I guess a lot of other weapons could be equally good or better until you actually find a pig sticker with a good roll.

  - Why is attack speed important? As punish is single target, and 2 piece seems to proc of every mob hitting us, it sounds like we will do a lot of the damage not through attacking. Are we doing most of the damage by actively attacking with punish rather than getting hit? Or I guess we might need it against hard single targets.

  - How far can one progress with this build prior to having lots of ancients and prior to boost stats on ancients with cube?

 

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All of the links to Belt of the Trove are showing incorrect hover tooltips.  For a while it was consistently for Burden of the Invoker, but now some of them are showing (apparently random?) other items.

 

I realize this is probably a site bug, not anything wrong with the guide itself.  The actual URL/links are correctly pointing to the Belt, it's just the hover that's completely screwed.

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Guest Guest

what do you think of using doom bringer instead of pig sticker. surely an extra 20% physical dmg would be better then .10 extra attacks per second?

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      Conclusion
      In closing, obviously you should play EXACTLY the way that you want to, and if pushing the high GRs and using the absolutely best gear that is available in a season is what's fun for you, then that's great, I'm actually envious of you! If using the same build all the time is what makes the game fun for you who am I to tell you different! This was just about my personal issues with the game and genre, and potential solutions to it. If you found any of this useful (or at all comprehensible), great! Let me know what you think of the whole thing above, from the paradox to the potential solutions and if I missed something in my reasoning. A big part of why I wrote this article (and hope to write more) is to see what other current Diablo 3 players think after 7 years, and to potentially be able to tell Blizzard what we want from Diablo 4, as they seem to not really have a firm idea themselves.
      Why optimal builds hurt the game (for me) and how we can move away from them.
    • By Starym
      The XP/paragon farming meta is changing this season, as the extremely popular Rat runs are no longer the top dog and Demon Hunters are taking on Necromancers for the throne. We have our own guide writer Impact taking us through all the details, from the start, through the Haedrig's set and on to the actual group compositions and builds for the optimal group XP runs in the endgame!
       
      The Rat Run
      For many seasons now the “Rat Run” has held the top spot of being the most efficient and best group composition for farming XP in d3. “Rat Runs” refer to the 3x Necromancer and 1x Barbarian group composition that focuses on the two supports spawning as many health globes as possible so that the two DPS Necromancers, using Reaper's Wraps, can pick them up for quick essence gain. This enables them to continuously summon full essence Skeletal MageSingularity for insane damage potential early on. They  get their name from the Rathma set that Necromancers have, which boosts their Skeletal Mage damage. Over time the build has evolved into using the Legacy of Dreams gem instead for even higher damage potential, but the name stuck. These runs were so off the charts efficient that no other group composition could ever come close to touching them, until now. With the nerfs to Reapers’ Wraps in Season 21 through a 2 second cooldown, the Necromancer has been dethroned. In its place, the Demon Hunter rises.
      Demon Hunters Arrive
      Season 21 is the season of the Demon Hunter.After many long seasons of the Necromancer and “Rat Runs” reigning supreme in the XP grinding meta, the DH is here to take the throne. For those of you planning out your season start, if you are looking to be the most optimal that you can be, then you should be looking to maximize efficiency in whatever you will spend the most time. During a season start, your time playing can generally be broken down into three stages.
      Leveling 1-70 Starter build at 70 with Haedrig’s Gift End-game build While Necromancer is still far and away the best class in the game for a swift 1-70 leveling process, level 70 is where the Demon Hunter will truly take over. Demon Hunters get access to the Shadow’s Mantle set this season, allowing them to access the Impale build as a starter build. The Impale build has a huge multiplier baked into the 2-set for the build, allowing you to start dishing out huge number straight out of the gate. You also can upgrade level 70 rare daggers in your Kanai’s Cube which has a 50% chance to get a Karlei's Point, providing yet another easily accessible multiplier to the build and the best weapon that you will want to use. Finally, if you save your challenge rift bloodshards until level 34, you can try to roll quivers which gives you a 25% chance to get a Holy Point Shot when you roll a legendary quiver. If you do get lucky, you can easily jump straight into t8 or higher once you get your 2pc bonus, giving you a huge start at 70.
       
      The Endgame Build
      Demon Hunters up to this point are arguably the best class, but now we get to where you will spend most of your time in Diablo: your end-game build. It is fun to optimize your season start and getting good builds early is great, but regardless of how you start you can always get to an end-game build within a couple of days, or even within the first day if you are lucky enough. For Demon Hunters, that means playing the GoD Hungering Arrow build.
      Once you have your end-game build, you should be able to clear t16 Nephalem Rifts without much trouble. This means your main source of progression will be in greater rifts. Once you have your full set of correct pieces in your end-game build, your main source of power progression is going to come from farming ancient pieces, getting gem upgrades, and farming XP for paragon levels. The last two specifically are done primarily in greater rifts. With an optimized 4-man group, you can clear higher greater rift levels, much higher than you would be able to achieve solo early on in a season. This enables you to rack up the paragon levels, with some of the more optimized groups even reaching 1000 paragon within the first 24 hours of a season launch. This XP farming meta is where Demon Hunter really shines this season. The optimized 4-man group for farming XP consists of the following:
      1x Support Barbarian 1x Support Demon Hunter 2x GoD Hungering Arrow Demon Hunters The true power of this group lies within the Support Demon Hunter. Thanks to the update to Leonine Bow of Hashir, your Bolas will not instantly explode, pulling in enemies within 24 yards into one spot. The DH can speed through the rift due to the movement speed that the GoD 4 piece bonus brings along with Smoke Screen, creating large, dense groupings of enemies ahead of the support Barbarian and Hungering Arrow DHs. You map out the rift for your team, create nice density of enemies through your Bolas, and then spin on top of the groups using Entangling Shot and Odyssey's End to put a 150% damage amplification on every enemy you hit. This is the single largest support buff that any class in the game can give, making DH an incredibly strong support early on when you need the extra damage.
      The support Barbarian is there to do their normal job helping to toss elites onto the packs for better positioning for Area Damage, while also using all of theirs shouts and the 2 pc HotNS for double effectiveness. Finally, your two GoD DH’s can spin around without stopping, utilizing Blood Vengeance for all their hatred generation so they do not have to stop channeling Strafe.
       
      The true devastating damage potential of this group comp lies within the innate damage that the GoD Hungering Arrow set provides. Thanks to your Devouring Arrow rune, your arrows will gain exponential damage each time they pierce enemies, but can pierce infinitely, only limited by the number of targets you have grouped. The crazy grouping potential that your two supports bring allows your arrows to pierce huge numbers of targets, which means your damage scales more than most classes would even without accounting for Area Damage.
      The GoD Hungering Arrow Demon Hunter build is the best solo-pushing build this season, and the insanely high base movement speed that the build offers without any support items allows you to build for full damage while still moving fast enough to do speed clears without missing a beat. While other speed compositions often must sacrifice damage for better mobility and speed, the Demon Hunters will never need to make that trade. You can abuse the base mobility that the build offers, building full damage, and push higher greater rift levels than any other group composition would ever allow for speed clears.
      If your goal is to be as optimal as possible in Season 21 with a group, you need to be playing the Demon Hunter meta to abuse it for all it is worth.
       

      Related articles:
      Which Class to Play in Diablo 3 Season 21? Solo, Group and Speedfarm Rankings
      Diablo 3 Season 21 Start Times
      Demon Hunter Set Guides Spotlight for Season 21: Gears of Dreadlands
      Diablo 3 Patch 2.6.9 (Season 21 Precursor) Is Now Live + Patch Notes
      Diablo 3 Ban Wave: June 19th
      Is the Season 21 Power Too Good? ZDPS Barb Can Solo GR 150 Without Area Damage
    • By Starym
      Season 21 is almost done (although we might be seeing some delays/extensions) and it hasn't been the most popular of seasons, but it did have many unique aspects to it, from the almost-kinda-exploits to the crazy 10K+ gathering of the seasonal stacks outside Greater Rifts, and much more. Today we'll be taking a look back and discussing what the issues with this and similar themes, how they potentially ruin the core concept of the game, how this type of seasonal power should be done in the future and much more.
      To do this we have our own guide writer Deadset and special guest sVr, an EU player and top theorycrafter who has been concocting guides and mechanical analysis to the benefit of the whole Diablo community since the dawn of seasonal play. You might remember him for unleashing the Bazooka Wizard onto Sanctuary, breaking down the veil of obscurity on Spirit Barrage, and many other math-heavy feats and word-laden reddit posts. You've certainly seen him on Twitch, both as a regular caster and a Blizz-sanctioned invitee to Gamescom and BlizzCon broadcasts. He likes crunching numbers, crunching hugs and horrible Californian iced tea. So let's get to it as the two take on the Trials of Tempests.
       
       
      Introduction
      Deadset:
      Season 21 bears the name “Trial of Tempests” and uses a mechanic that is closely related to the one from Season 19, the “Season of Eternal Conflict” — it is once again based on abilities spawned by the game, but based on a timer rather than kill count. The goal was, once again, to make the effect Season-defining in terms of power, and the developers have matched — and even surpassed — the powers of the former mechanic. It has certainly led to a spike in build potential within the 10+ Greater Rift tiers range, with certain builds of course benefiting more from the theme than others.
      Whenever a proc-reliant, percentage damage-based power gets introduced to the game, it opens a window for ‘clever use of mechanics’, or outright exploitation, and it requires careful monitoring by the developers. And while I can certainly commend the teams for squashing out abusive strategies in a timely manner, I can safely say that with two proc-based Seasons behind us — the sheer potential for abuse and the diminished feel of player agency stemming from themes like these bring down the morale of casual and veteran players alike. The visual treat of these effects fades away in the early stretch of a Season, leaving players to a prolonged period of visual fatigue, lessened screen readability, and even technical issues in certain cases.
      sVr:
      The Trial of Tempests seasonal theme had a very similar feeling to S19, where generated (not-selfcast) abilities would spawn after a certain condition is met. A couple of severe issues were identified on the PTR and were fixed appropriately. As an example, the theme itself scaled with Area Damage equipped on one’s character, and a player was able to teleport out of the GR, safely wait in town for the countdown, re-enter the GR and “idle in the immunity phase of entering a rift” while the seasonal theme would proc and kill everything. These issues were fixed, but I feel that the general concept of auto-generator themes are flawed and they simply brick the core concept of Diablo 3 for me.
       
       
      Theme Behavior and Relation to Core Gameplay
      Deadset:
      All this, of course, is not to say the theme lacks strategizing potential; simply that it externalizes the potential from the capabilities of the character and the build choices you’ve made along the way, and shifts decision making all too much in the direction of effects that feel even more arbitrary and unpredictable than the “usual suspects” of rift layout, monster composition and elite affix RNG.
      To put this in perspective, a Greater Rift pushing attempt that falls into the “stars have aligned in your favor” category — one with desirable open spaces, monster density and decent Pylon spawns — can be completely ruined by a bad proc of the Seasonal theme. Some work mostly to your advantage, like the Beam proc and the decent amount of control you can apply to its effect. Some of the procs are reliant on the spaces you choose to fight in — the Twisters and Snowball, for example, benefit greatly from small, closed off spaces and tight corners. And others still require plain luck — maybe the Meteor strikes the cluster of monsters you prepared... or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the Fire Wave melts the Elite pack ahead of you, or maybe it bugs out and doesn’t spawn at all, and ends your push then and there. To make matters even worse, the harder you lean into the Seasonal theme to make the Rift clear — very understandable considering its ubiquitous power — the more you open yourself to bad RNG from the procs, inevitably leading to some very unsatisfying pushing sessions where you have played your build to the maximum of its potential, played around Rift RNG, and still fall prey to an additional layer of randomization.
      sVr:
      To elaborate on my comment about ‘bricking the core game concepts’, this is how I see it: the power of one’s character in Diablo 3 comes from three different sources.
      Paragon and Augments: Increasing one's damage via the (1 + mainstat/100) multiplier, as well as one's toughness via the respective defensive mainstat bonus (All Resistance via Intelligence, Armor via Strength/Dexterity).  Gear and Affix Quality: Increasing one's damage via appropriate primary affix rolls (e.g. quadfecta weapons or gloves, trifecta jewelry) and high legendary affix rolls. Increasing one's toughness with appropriate primary (All Resistance, Elite Damage Reduction %) and secondary (Reduction of damage from melee and ranged sources, Crowd Control Reduction %, single element Resistance) affixes. Main Gems: Increasing one's damage/toughness via high gem levels. There isn't any other “dimension” that gives power to the overall capability of one's character. Sure, there is the “capability” of a player on how well one can play his character, however, for the sake of this argument, assume that everyone has the same exact skill; everyone is a god tier gamer. In this scenario, each time a player logs in to play his goal is to progress his character making it stronger. One chooses to scale these three pillars over the span of a season progressively to reach higher and higher in GRs.
      For the first pillar (Paragon) people would choose to run XP meta runs, such as Rats runs (or historically Vyr Wizard XP groups, Charge Barbarian XP groups, Rend Barbarian XP groups, etc.). For the second pillar (Gear/Items) people would choose to run Bounties in "teched out 4 Man groups" (quad-Unhallowed Essence Multishot Demon Hunters) to ultimately reforge their gear into the desired rolls. For the third pillar (Main Gems) people would choose to run 1%ers (mostly solo) or group meta (GR150) to level their Main Gems to max cap. While 1%er runs are, quite frankly, a “thing of the past” nowadays, back in the days these runs constituted another end-game activity with a different group setup. Technically speaking, only solo self found players regularly play 1% runs to increase their gem levels.

        How the Theme Circumvents Progression
      Deadset:
      Over the course of the Season, experienced players have learned a great deal about the inner workings of the Season 21 theme, and using them to their Greater Rift pushing advantage. The theme even enables the tantalizing proposition of dropping Bane of the Stricken — one of the game’s staple pushing Legendary Gems, which is often single-handedly responsible for taking down Rift Guardians with its damage stacking mechanic — and going all in with the proc RNG, hoping circumstances and its damage would be enough to obliterate the biggest HP obstacle in the Rift.
      The general strategy for S21 Rift progression got distilled to the maximization of trash pulls, with heavy emphasis on getting the most out of the initial proc in terms of stacks, and snowballing that effect into future trash pulls — with the added factor of their even spacing and preparation for the 90-second interval of the theme effect. The timing aspect attains some additional complexity in groups, where synchronization of the procs between party members comes into play. Killing elites got relegated to (mostly) collateral damage in favor of building momentum via trash throughout the clear, although exceptions could be made when stacks were deemed high enough, elite health got low enough from circumstances, or a combination of both. The overall principle for elites, especially in a Stricken-deprived build, was to simply skip them.
      If we were to summarize the optimization of the Seasonal theme’s effects, it would be to:
      Amass a huge monster pull to kickstart your stacks as soon as the first proc comes into effect. Chain trash pulls for every subsequent theme proc, trying to keep your stacks well above a 50 stack minimum — although ideally, much higher. Chain trash pulls with careful positioning and judgment of your surroundings to squeeze the most of the upcoming effect. With some practice, rinsing and repeating steps 2 and 3 will take you much higher into Greater Rift progression, but also translates into half of the time spent in a GR push attempt or more being spent on proc setup and positioning, instead of using the capabilities of your own character. This is very reminiscent of the gameplay loop forced by exploitative mechanics, and I’ll once again leave it to the capable hands of SVR to walk you through his definition of the term (that I also share), as well as some of its history in Diablo 3.
      sVr:
      Each of the gameplay pillars I described before aren't entirely perpendicular to one another, but they all serve to increase one's power — allowing for higher GRs to be DPS-ed. Once a mechanic short-circuits all those three pillars (you don't need to scale the pillars anymore to go "higher in GRs"), it fundamentally breaks the feedback loop and core concept of the game. One technically doesn't need to "scale one's character" (or in other words, play the game as intended) to increase one's power.
      Historically, this was always my train of thought on how to "identify an exploit" that is clearly not just “a clever use of game mechanics” (as often postulated by 'exploit'-defenders). An example would be the “Necromancer’s Frailty curse plus Demon Hunter’s Marked for DeathGrim Reaper debuff” exploit after the Necromancer's release, where an entire screen would get one-shot by the interaction of both skills, regardless of what gear, paragon and main gems the Necromancer and Demon Hunter players had equipped. The Necro and DH were the damage dealers in that scenario - yet, their damage was "un-scalable" by any ingame playtime investment: regardless of how much time those players would've put in the game, they would've always executed the entire screen by the maximum damage value the game could apply. This mechanic short-circuited the entire concept of "power", hence, an exploit in my books.
       

      Conclusion
      Deadset:
      There is depth to be found in Season 21’s mechanics and what they bring to the game; certainly, an argument can be made that it forces you to play differently, to think differently of the things you do during the Greater Rift pushing attempts, which has always been the highlight of ‘hard’ content in Diablo 3, the proving ground of your heroes. In my book however, the shift from the intrinsic qualities of the aRPG genre — gradual character development, set and legendary item interactions, proactive use of abilities and their synergy — into a thinly veiled management of timers, is the wrong one to make. I greatly appreciate the practice of “themed Seasons” and the additional developer thought and effort spent, but in the future I’d be happy to see more player control and agency over the things happening on screen.
      sVr:
      Unfortunately, the S21 Theme, while not technically an exploit, nominally behaves the same way as an exploit in its current iteration. No amount of time investment scales your character's capability in GRs. While this is not entirely true and definitely and over-exaggerated statement, since you still get tankier and can increase your non-theme damage output, the core of the issue remains the same: there is no reason to play, besides playing the S21 Theme itself until you clear GR150 with it. To me this fundamentally breaks what Diablo 3 and GR progression is about; a journey of your character’s progression.
    • By Starym
      Season 21 starts today!  It's going to be quite a season, especially for Demon Hunters. We've already taken a look at the top builds for solo pushing, speedfarming and group compositions, as well as the meta-breaking new 3x DH-based XP farm setup which dethroned Rat runs, so now its time to head for the full guides themselves, and we have them ready for all classes!
      Barbarian
      The Support build still reigns supreme, as it retains it's place in the new XP farm meta, and the rest of the rankings haven't changed since the last season, as Barbarians didn't get many changes.
      Support Barbarian (Raekor + HotNS + Istvan) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variant Rend Barbarian (WotW + Istvan) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Seismic Slam Barbarian (MotE + Endless Walk) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Frenzy Barbarian (HotNS + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Hammer of the Ancients Raekor Barbarian (Raekor + Endless Walk + Istvan) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Hammer of the Ancients IK Barbarian (IK + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Furious Charge Barbarian (IK + Raekor) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Leap/Earthquake Barbarian (MotE + Bastions) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Hammer of the Ancients GR Barbarian (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Mid Tier) Whirlwind Wastes Barbarian (WotW + Bul-kathos) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Frenzy Thorns Barbarian (LoN) Speed Farming Variation
        Crusader
      Crusaders also didn't get a big shift in rankings, as the seasonal power doesn't really affect the individual builds.
      Heaven's Fury Crusader (Aegis of Valor) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Blessed Shield Crusader (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Top Tier) Thorns Crusader (Invoker + Endless Walk) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Condemn LoD Crusader (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (High Tier) Condemn Akkhan Crusader (Akkhan + Bastions) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Hammerdin Crusader (SoL + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Sweep Attack Crusader (Roland + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Fist of the Heavens Crusader (Aegis of Valor) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Bombardment Crusader (LoN) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Shield Bash Crusader (Roland + Bastions) Speed Farming Variation
        Demon Hunter
      Season 21 is very much the season of the Demon Hunter, as their new Gears of Dreadlands set brought them 2 top tier builds, both for solo pushing and XP farming.
      Support Demon Hunter (GoD + Marauder) (Top Tier) (New) Hungering Arrow Demon Hunter (GoD + Bastions) (Top Tier) (New) Bolas Variation Rapid Fire Demon Hunter (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Top Tier) Rapid Fire Natalya Demon Hunter (Natalya + Endless Walk) (Top Tier) Impale Demon Hunter (Shadow + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Group Progression Variation Sentry Demon Hunter (Marauder + Natalya + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Multishot Demon Hunter (Unhallowed + Bastions) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Cluster Arrow Demon Hunter  (Marauder + Bastions) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Rockets-based Progression Variation Grenades Demon Hunter (Unhallowed + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Rain of Vengeance Demon Hunter (Natalya + Bastions) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Fan of Knives LoD Demon Hunter (Legacy of Dreams Gem) Chakram Demon Hunter (Unhallowed + Bastions) Speed Farming Variation
        Monk
      Monk support is still on top as the class build rankings stay the same as last season.
      Support Monk (Inna + Born's Command + Captain Crimson) (Top Tier) Tempest Rush Sunwuko Monk (Monkey King + Captain Crimson) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Tempest Rush Patterns Monk (Patterns of Justice + Captain Crimson) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Wave of Light LoD Monk (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Top Tier) Wave of Light Monk (Monkey King + Captain Crimson) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Inna Variation Generator Monk (Rainment + Endless Walk + Captain Crimson + Shenlong) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Inna Variation Seven-Sided Strike Monk (Uliana + Captain Crimson + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Lashing Tail Kick LoD Monk (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Mid Tier) Lashing Tail Kick Monk (Monkey King) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Exploding Palm Monk (Inna + Endless Walk) Speed Farming Variation Mystic Ally Pets Variation
        Necromancer
      The Necromancer may have gotten the shorter end of the new set stick, but they did get plenty of new toys to play with, resulting in a new build at the top of the list and two more top tier ones, with a whole lot of LoD!
      Corpse Explosion LoD Necromancer  (LoD) (Top Tier) (New) Key Farming Variation Support Necromancer (Pestilence + Captain Crimson) (Top Tier) Poison Scythe LoD Necromancer (LoD) (Top Tier) (New) Trash Killer Variation Corpse Lance LoD Necromancer (LoD) (Top Tier) Skeletal Mage Singularity/Archers LoD Necromancer (LoD) (Top Tier) (New) Speed Farming Variation Key Farming Variation Corpse Lance Necromancer (Pestilence + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Trag'Oul Variation Group Progression Variation Skeletons Thorns Solo LoD Necromancer (LoD) (High Tier) Generator Necromancer (Inarius) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Skeletal Mages Rathma Necromancer (Rathma + Jesseth) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Group Speed GR Variation Skeletal Mages Trag'Oul Necromancer (Trag'Oul + Jesseth) (Mid Tier) Solo Progression Variation Blood Nova LoD Necromancer (LoD) (Mid Tier)
        Witch Doctor
      The WD's new set from a while ago has crept up the rankings and landed on top, edging out the ever popular Poison Dart build.
      Spirit Barrage Witch Doctor (Mundunugu + Endless Walk) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Carnevil Poison Dart Witch Doctor (Zunimasa + Aughild's Authority + Endless Walk) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Carnevil Poison Dart Dagger of Darts Witch Doctor (LoD) (Top Tier) Soul Harvest Witch Doctor (Jade Harvester) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Spirit Barrage Witch Doctor (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Group Progression Variation Firebats Witch Doctor (Arachyr + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Group Progression Variation Gargantuan Zunimasa Witch Doctor (Zunimasa + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Gargantuan Helltooth Witch Doctor (Helltooth + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Zombie Bears Witch Doctor (Helltooth + Endless Walk) Speed Farming Variation Acid Cloud Witch Doctor (Helltooth + Bastions) Speed Farming Variation Grasp of the Dead Witch Doctor (Helltooth + Endless Walk)
        Wizard
      Wizards retain their rankings from last season, with the ubiquitous Archon remaining on top.
      Archon Wizard (Vyr + Chantodo) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation Mammoth Hydra Wizard (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Top Tier) Frost Hydra Wizard (Typhon's Veil) (High Tier) Meteor Wizard (Firebird + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Speed Farming Variation Tal Rasha Variation Star Pact Variation Frozen Orb Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Energy Twister Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk) (High Tier) Manald Lightning Archon Wizard (Tal Rasha + Vyr) (Mid Tier) Group Progression Variation Solo Progression Variation Archon Wizard (Firebird + Chantodo + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Speed Farming Variation Arcane Torrent Manald Wizard (Tal Rasha + Endless Walk) (Mid Tier) Electrocute Variation Spectral Blade Variation Arcane Orbit Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk) Speed Farming Variation Explosive Blast Farming Wizard (Tal Rasha + Sage) Greater Rifting Variation
        Those are all the class guides we have, the season start in a matter of hours and we hope you have a great time!
       

      Related articles:
      The Rat Is Dead: Long Live the Demon Hunter Speed Meta
      Which Class to Play in Diablo 3 Season 21? Solo, Group and Speedfarm Rankings
      Diablo 3 Season 21 Start Times
      Demon Hunter Set Guides Spotlight for Season 21: Gears of Dreadlands
      Diablo 3 Patch 2.6.9 (Season 21 Precursor) Is Now Live + Patch Notes
      Diablo 3 Ban Wave: June 19th
      Is the Season 21 Power Too Good? ZDPS Barb Can Solo GR 150 Without Area Damage
    • By Stan
      Wudijo scored the world's fastest Solo Greater Rift 150 in time in Season 21 with his Demon Hunter after 5,500 used keys and weeks of attempts. Congrats!
      UPDATE: This is currently the world's second clear of Solo GR150, not world first as we thought, we apologize for the confusion!
      Placeholder for tweet 1289929742800449540   The player completed the rift and killed the Infernal Maiden with 1 minute and 4 seconds remaining on the timer.

      Here are the final moments of the run!
      (Source)
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