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Starym

S17: The Season of (My) Dreams

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The Season of Nightmares is long done and S18 (let's call it the Season of Glowy Orbs Underfoot) is underway. With the season over I have to say my hype for it was very well placed. This review may be a little late, but ever since the Season 17 started I've wanted to write and write about it, planning many different articles and topics but something kept getting in the way: I kept playing.

I'd say 17 was the best season so far by a long shot and would even go so far as saying that this is the best version of Diablo 3 period. In this article I'll try to point out why I feel this way and why Blizzard really need to take notice of this season looking to Diablo 4 and the itemization systems there. I've already talked a lot about sets, why I think they're the bane of D3 and how they've basically ruined an ok/solid itemization system, so I'll try to refrain from going into all of that again.

My S17 journey started with a whole lot of debate on what class to pick, or rather with me trying very hard not to make my 4th or 5th Monk in a row. In the end I went with Wizard, since I hadn't played the class in quite a while (I think the last time was the Tal Rasha season). The plan was to actually play pretty much all the classes, as the ability to ignore sets really opened up many possibilities for all of them (especially in the early game), but in the end I had so much fun and spent so much time on my Wiz that I only ended up playing a 3 others, and only 1 to any significant extent. Also I had to go on my honeymoon, which completely messed up my plans. Damn you wiifeeee!

And just to mention Season 18 and the legendary gem Legacy of Dreams, while I think it's great Blizz have taken some notice of the popularity of S17, I feel it's still too restrictive compared to the perma-LoN buff, but I'll get into that later.

The Story of the Build

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One of the things I completely forgot about during the last many years of playing the game was this phenomenon, which is one of my favorite things about ARPGs in general. As the game stood before S17 the item progression was pretty simple - get your Haedrig's Gift for the season and then start either filling out the few missing slots for that set's build or start farming the currently OP set. Now, I knew that this wasn't going to be the case in S17, and I knew I was going to be making some builds of my own from scratch, but what I had forgotten was that amazing feeling of actually "progressing" through a build.

*Just a note that I played solo the entire time.

So what do I mean by that exactly? In short, at the end of the day/season, I had not only made my own build, but I also had a great story about how I got to that final iteration of it. It started out with a bit of a negative, as I was expecting it to take a whole lot longer for me to get into the Ancient game and actually benefit from the LoN bonus, but I very quickly got an Ancient and it immediately rocketed me into the lower Torments. It was a random item, didn't have any build implications so I just kept switching things around - and so were the next few Ancients so I got to experiment a lot. Wizard really has a lot of potential spenders as opposed to some other classes and so the options were many. The great thing about this is that in addition to the 2-3 Ancients I had at that point each new regular legendary was also adding to my build selection, but none of them were build-defining and so the variety stayed intact. The first actually build-defining item I got was MirrorballMirrorball, which was great because it was one of those interesting builds you never get to try because it's immediately overshadowed by... well by any other build really (and ofc I went for the insanely inefficient 5-missile rune because screw it, it looks pretty).

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Then I hit a bit of a snag in my wonderful playing the field plans, as one of those darned Arcane Orb Ancients dropped, and boy are they too powerful to ignore. Very quickly I had a full Frozen Orb build going and it was by far the most efficient one available to me. With the weapon and offhand, the stacking bonuses on top of the LoN ones were just incredibly powerful and I almost messed up and stuck with that build permanently. But I remembered everything I was yammering on about in my previous article and decided to diversify instead and switch up my builds, despite the others being much weaker. This is when the next amazing point of the Season of Nightmares hit me: the other builds weren't THAT much weaker. Instead of having to drop like 10 torments when you went from set to no set in the past, these "bad" builds weren't really that bad. Sure you went down a couple of torments or stayed on the same one but took a lot longer to clear a rift, but since I wasn't at the pushing high GRs stage of the game yet I didn't really mind at all - I was still progressing at a solid pace and not forced to completely stop and get very few/no upgrades.

So I settled in and played a whole lot of stuff, leaning towards a pretty basic disintegrate build, which I was really enjoying due to the static nature of it being constantly challenged and interrupted by me having to move around to get the Oculus RingOculus Ring buff (which is actually my favorite thing about this new season as well). I still kept playing the Frozen Orb build here and there, as it was still far and away the best I had available, but I wasn't at all feeling restricted to it or feeling I was nerfing myself completely when not using it. And so thrughout my playing I kept getting bits and bobs to add to my Disintegrate build (with a pretty nice Wand of Woh one on the side) and still wasn't even done with getting full Ancients either. At some point I got the offhand that makes your Disintegrate spawn other spenders every second, which was a completely new item to me as I hadn't played Wizard after it was added. This was the major game-changer, as it opened up many possibilities (yes, I knew Meteor was going to be the go-to, but before that I tried out basically everything else). One of my favorite was the Energy TwisterEnergy Twister + Ranslor's FollyRanslor's Folly combo, which showed me how extremely fun throwing mobs around the map infinitely could be, which would actually come into play later in the main build.

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Eventually though, I did settle on Meteor, but even then I wasn't even remotely done with the build. I still only had around 10 Ancients and very, VERY few of them were actually for the build I was playing, so I actually had to prioritize normal legendaries over Ancients (primarily DeathwishDeathwish and Etched SigilEtched Sigil). So now that I had the general build I wanted in mind, it was time to switch things up.

It was time to finally go for targeted Ancient farming aka the Reforge Legendary option in the cube. i tried going the Upgrade Rare route for a while, but didn't get anywhere with it, so I instead focused on farming as many Forgotten Souls as possible and even doing some bounties for those act mats. I really enjoyed this part, as it was different from the "just see what drops and use that" method that I'd been using up until this point, or the short lived Death's Breath farm. And so this was the longest period of my time in Season 17, eventually getting all the things I wanted in Ancient form, but even then I wasn't even remotely done. After getting all Anciented up and having the correct pieces, it suddenly dawned on me that I was focusing on the items only, and completely forgot there may be a build improvement possible, so I started playing around with that. I recalled how much fun it was throwing mobs around with Energy Twister earlier and, since I couldn't really incorporate that into my Meteor build, decided to throw in a Black HoleBlack Hole in there. Since I was using a MeteorMeteorStar PactStar Pact combo, this massively helped with scattered mobs, but it did reduce the frequency of actual Meteors dropping, so it wasn't a pure upgrade, but a bit of a trade-off. Whether to remove Black Hole or not became an ongoing question I struggled with pretty much until the end of the season. But I STILL wasn't done with this single build!

As you can imagine, with Ancients just getting the right one takes some time, but that doesn't even remotely guarantee you'll get something with good rolls, which means the "minor" % upgrade item hunt that was the ONLY thing to do very quickly after you got your sets in other seasons, was only now arriving in my build, somewhere at the tail end of S17. And, to make things even more complicated, my first Primal Ancient was CindercoatCindercoat, which got me thinking of switching over to MeteorMeteor Meteor ShowerMeteor Shower, and dumping my Hergbrash's BindingHergbrash's Binding and stacking resource cost reduction instead... Eventually I did gather up all the pieces for that build as well, and switched between the two (since the arcane version was much better at single target damage, but even with Black Hole it sucked for AoE, compared to fire). I won't bother you with further details, but suffice it to say that I could go on and on and on about every single piece that fell into place for this build (and a paragraph or two about my insanely tanky build featuring Aquila CuirassAquila CuirassUnityUnityMantle of ChannelingMantle of ChannelingAshnagarr's Blood BracerAshnagarr's Blood BracerGalvanizing WardGalvanizing WardEye of EtlichEye of EtlichCord of the ShermaCord of the ShermaCrown of the PrimusCrown of the Primus, on top of the default damage reduction from LoN) but even though it may be similar to the Star Pact top tier one, it was entirely mine and I knew exactly how each piece ended up where it did and why.

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Conclusion

While I'm extremely disappointed the season is over and not too hyped about the current one, there are some very positive things to come out of S17. It would appear Blizzard did indeed take note of the popularity of the seasonal buff and while I don't think the new LoN legendary gem is exactly what was needed, it at least shows the devs are keeping track of what's working for the community. The barrier to entry presented by the Legacy of Dreams messes with the experience I described above and is on par with the loss presented by the LoN set itself (perhaps not in terms of raw power, but definitely in terms of variety), although I very much appreciate the fact it added regular legendaries into it's buff as well. And while I don't see myself getting this hyped for any future seasons, I'm very happy that Blizzard are taking notes, not so much for Diablo 3's future as much as the ongoing development of Diablo 4 (however many years it'll take to arrive). I can only hope the broken and pointless set system is put away entirely for D4 and a new role is found for those greens, because removing all choice for 6 item slots is just never a good idea for a game this reliant on itemization. But I'll get into Diablo 4 and what we need from that game another time.

Suffice it to say the Season of Nightmares was definitely the Season of (my) Dreams and really reminded me what Diablo games can be, and I guess you can't really wish for anything more from a free update to a 7 year old game. Thanks D3 dev team! I hope you can surprise me again with a new seasonal effect.

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Clearly I did not have the forethought to take screenshots while playing so these are just very hastily added ones post-season.

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Well, I enjoyed this season because of the set changes and the LoN gem is also a lovely addition.
More or less I entirely skipped over the "get ancients or gtfo" season, since I simply did not want to farm them.
The rings were meh, dull, confusing, mismatched with the filter overlay grifts, but Vyr comeback was doing incredibly well.

I was just happy to be among top in the leaderboards for a while before full-time farmers got filled it up completely.
 

I kinda wish now, that there was a way to stay "competitive" without the plain "pain" of exp farming, augments, ofc the full ancients and gems for the augments.
But then there would be nothing to do.
So I created a league of my own, a "week one below para 1k without aguments" league and I am content.

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Great article. 

Recently i've been thinking of how could D4 become a successful game when it releases and the itemization is definelly one of the main topics. 

Since you mentioned you will get into what will be needed from D4, I wanted to give you one suggestion to take into consideration. Since Starcraft and Warcraft 3, Blizzard is known for allowing people to make custom games from their engine. Well, diablo 2 was moddable and there were great ways to play it besides the original content. With that in mind, I was thinking that Blizzard could allow modding in D4 to allow people to contribute creating their own content. New classes, new acts, tower defense, card games, all sort of things using the d4 engine. That could be the perfect thing to guarantee the game success even though the game it self and its itemization ends up being as bad as d3. 

Take care!

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You talk to my heart mate. Great article!
Season 17 was the season that drop me back to the game, and honestly, i haven;t played that much Diablo for ages. 
I was really sad when the season was over, but at least, i'm back to the game. Also. i'm really happy that the devs listened to the community and they add the new gem so we can play that cool builds.

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Great write-up! I too had more fun than any other season from 1-18. Played my LoN BS Sader til the last week, all solo minus bounties and plvling people/giving vaults. I was very happy hit a GR121 and get, I think 27 rank at the time. It was just so much fun to keep going! I had 6 primals equipped and struggled to the end with my Jekang rolls but man...it was just a refreshing season! I miss it already ha! This is my first season fully SSF (til 9/22 anyway) and that's been a new experience that I enjoy since I'm 95% solo anyway. Here's to 19! What will come after the massive success of 17? Glad this season isn't going to keep me as engaged tbh! I need a little rest ha. Cheers!

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20 hours ago, Arruda said:

Great article. 

Recently i've been thinking of how could D4 become a successful game when it releases and the itemization is definelly one of the main topics. 

Since you mentioned you will get into what will be needed from D4, I wanted to give you one suggestion to take into consideration. Since Starcraft and Warcraft 3, Blizzard is known for allowing people to make custom games from their engine. Well, diablo 2 was moddable and there were great ways to play it besides the original content. With that in mind, I was thinking that Blizzard could allow modding in D4 to allow people to contribute creating their own content. New classes, new acts, tower defense, card games, all sort of things using the d4 engine. That could be the perfect thing to guarantee the game success even though the game it self and its itemization ends up being as bad as d3. 

Take care!

That's a great iea but unfortunately I very much doubt they'll implement it.  Basically with Sc2 and WC it makes sense since youre not bound to a character, but for Diablo every single mod would require yu to make a separate char, since they can't allow "modded" chars into the main population - you'd have too many mods that just gave you all legendaries ever, max level etc.

You actually did give me a good idea for an article and In think that's the one I'll be writing next! Thanks!

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Exactly, its the same problem with WoW modding although that would be absolutely most amazing thing ever!

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4 hours ago, Starym said:

That's a great iea but unfortunately I very much doubt they'll implement it.  Basically with Sc2 and WC it makes sense since youre not bound to a character, but for Diablo every single mod would require yu to make a separate char, since they can't allow "modded" chars into the main population - you'd have too many mods that just gave you all legendaries ever, max level etc.

You actually did give me a good idea for an article and In think that's the one I'll be writing next! Thanks!

I also very much doubt they would Implement it, but Nevalistis could be reading this forums and perhaps they brainstorm this idea and how to implement it. Who knows, maybe they can have a "open battle.net" like character list in d4? I really dont think it is that hard to do. And it could save their game.

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This season WAS great! And getting to try some of the new builds was a lot of fun.

Then following a Maintenance Update this week, we can no longer chat with Team members (or the larger community - e.g. the 100+ GR / General chat don't seem to work anymore), and inviting friends to join your group only works half the time. 

It's now been 3-4 days without resolution (just a floating message in the Blizzard app saying they are aware of the problem) - I feel like this would never happen to any other Blizzard game. They seem to rely on Diablo 3 players being a smaller community, unable to generate the kind of social media outrage necessary to force them to take action. 

 

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      Wizard Beginner Guide (Updated) Archon Wizard (Vyr + Chantodo) (Updated) (Top Tier) Speed Farming Variation (Updated) Star Pact Wizard (Legacy of Dreams Gem) (Updated) (Top Tier) Meteor Wizard (Firebird + Endless Walk) (Few Changes) (High Tier) Star Pact Variation (Few Changes) Tal Rasha Variation (Tal Rasha) (Few Changes) Speed Farming Variation (Few Changes) Frozen Orb Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk)  (Few Changes) (High Tier) Energy Twister Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk) (Few Changes) (High Tier) Manald Lightning Archon Wizard (Tal Rasha + Vyr) (Few Changes) (Mid Tier) Archon Wizard (Firebird + Chantodo + Endless Walk) (Few Changes) (Mid Tier) Solo Progression Variation (Few Changes) Speed Farming Variation (Few Changes) Manald Arcane Torrent Wizard (Tal Rasha + Endless Walk) (Few Changes) (Mid Tier) Electrocute Variation (Few Changes) Spectral Blade Variation  (Few Changes) Explosive Blast Farming Wizard (Tal Rasha + Sage) (Few Changes) Greater Rifting Variation (Few Changes) Arcane Orbit Wizard (Delsere + Endless Walk) (Few Changes) Speed Farming Variation (Few Changes)  
      And that's it for the class guides for the Season of Triune, now go stand in some colored circles!
      Header image art source.
      Deadset has updated all our class guides for the Season of Triune, including many build variations!
    • By Starym
      Diablo 3 is getting pretty old. A lot of us who spent so many hours on the game either skip seasons or just check back in every now and then for some great gameplay and then drop it pretty quickly. Considering how old the game actually is (going on 7 years now) with no major updates, it's still impressive how many people actually play. Today I wanted to talk a little about how the upcoming Season 17 or "Season of Nightmares", which is what it will probably be called, is getting me all hyped up for D3 once again.
      Who am I and why should you care?
      I feel it's always good to know who exactly is writing these types of articles, as it's mostly just one person's opinion and viewpoint on the game, so I figured I'd just write up my so-called resume and background with Diablo so you can get a good idea of what angle I'm coming at this topic from.
      Action RPGs or, more accurately, Diablo-likes, are my absolute favorite genre. Ever since I dived into the Diablo 1 demo that much was very clear to me and I've since played all manner of similar games, from old and relatively obscure ones (Blade and Sword, Revenant, Hexplore, Nox, etc.) to newer and even more obscure ones (Devillian, MU Legend and most recently Lost Ark - ok that last one isn't really obscure as much as it is "difficult" to actually get to play). My favorite one would have to be Diablo 1, despite the fact it was surpassed in all aspects (except for the atmosphere *cough*Halls of the Blind*cough*). You never forget your first.

      Revenant
      But what about Diablo 3?
      The other big issue people want to hear about when deciding whether to trust your judgement/opinion is how much Diablo 3 disappointed you and how thoroughly it ruined your childhood. Well, unlike the hyperbolic side of the internet I'll have to disappoint and say that it didn't really. Sure there are many flaws and mistakes the game had and still has, but the one thing it got absolutely right is the thing it HAD to get right - and that's the combat. The core combat loop is THE most important aspect of a Diablo-like, and D3 absolutely nailed it, to the point that it's ruined combat in other games in the genre for me, probably forever. Torchlight 2 got close, some of the Asian MMO/action RPGs were in the same ballpark and Lost Ark actually managed to surpass the D3 combat, but that game has some issues with its lackluster enemies, as it's more of an MMO than a straight-up action RPG, so it also loses.
      The other thing D3 got absolutely right is the Legendary system. Reaper of Souls, or rather Loot 2.0, salvaged a very poor itemization system with the introduction of game-changing Legendary items that dramatically altered your playstyle as you got them. Subsequently though, and quite unfortunately, we moved on to a more set-based item economy where the only correct move was to gather up the current best set for your class and accessorize it with a couple of additional legendaries in the slots and cube. Then it was on to "which set got a 5 billion percent buff this season, ok let's play that".
      All of this leads perfectly into the upcoming Season 17 with its innate buff that gives us the Legacy of Nightmares set, allowing us to use ALL the legendaries we could ever want, even without using or finding the two set rings previously needed! In case you don't know the specifics, the set gives you a 750% damage and 4% damage reduction increase for each Ancient item you have equipped.


      The Season of Nightmares (the good kind)
      So, is this simple buff really that big of a deal? Yes. Yes it is. I'm incredibly excited to come back after a pretty long pause and be able to actually get creative with my builds and not have to feel like I'm playing in an incredibly un-optimized way and slogging through lower Torments and GRs. Now sure, we'll have to farm up those Ancients first, and obviously we'll be using actual sets to do that, but considering we're also getting three more Torment difficulties I'm pretty sure that won't take long at all.

      Sets, the enemy
      The real delight for me in this season will be actually making builds of my own. Since you'll be dependent on Ancient drops for a while, that's the perfect time to experiment with various legendary powers we've been ignoring for a long time. One of the best times of my Diablo 3 career was actually in the pre-patch, when Loot 2.0 arrived and some of the new legendaries were added. I had a great Monk build in mind and eventually got it to work using Cyclone and any and all legendaries to passively deal damage to everything around me.
      From Sweeping Wind, Dashing Strike, Inner Sanctuary (and no spender other than Cyclone) to Schaefer's Hammer, Thundergod's Vigor, Death Watch Mantle, Strongarm Bracers, Bul-Kathos's Wedding Band, Moonlight Ward and the literal crown of the build, Andariel's Visage. (I  am not sure if these were the exact ones I used, as it's been a long time and some of them might not have actually been released yet, but this is as far as I can recall). Now this wasn't necessarily the best build, or perhaps even a good build at all, but it was possibly the most fun I had with one in D3 ever. I thought it up myself as I ran across various legendaries and their powers and then started fitting in new and better combinations in there to fit the idea. When sets arrived/were buffed and were the only way to play, this quickly went away, and even though you always COULD think up new crazy build ideas, somehow most people don't and stick to what works. Unfortunately, "most people" includes me as well. There's just something wrong-feeling with going down to a much lower Torment or GR after you've been blasting through the maximum with your +15,000,000% to whatever set.

      This is Diablo, so we need more enemies, obviously

      When to Switch from Sets?
      So as you can imagine, the Litany of the Undaunted / The Wailing Host Legacy of Nightmares buff that we're getting (except it's 750% damage now, not sure why the tooltips are out of date) is just the perfect way for me to get back into the game and get that sense of exploration back as well. While there are plenty of guides out there as to what the best LoN build is, even if you do decide to go that route you can still have a lot of fun while you're trying to find those perfect pieces, and perhaps you'll find an incredibly fun build that's just right for you along the way.
      For me, the key breaking point will be when exactly to switch to the LoN build. What I mean is, as we'll  be using sets to farm those Ancients, since they aren't THAT common just yet, there will come a point when you have like 4-5 Ancients with ok-ish powers, and then it becomes the same old frustrating question: do you switch to the probably sub-optimal and weaker, but possibly/definitely more fun build (since we've been playing these sets SO long now, any new build will be more fun by default) OR do you keep farming with your amazing awesome 50,000,000 million billion% increase set until you have all or at least most of the ancient pieces you want. I really, really want to switch as soon as possible, while also being able to continue farming ancients with that new build at a not-so-terrible rate, but I know that dam siren's call from the set will be strong and keep pulling me in to be "optimal". I've really started to hate that word, "optimal", btw. When exactly did it start outweighing fun? It really does showcase the treadmill/Skinner box nature of these games, and I for one would prefer that illusion not be shattered quite so frequently thank you very much.

      Hopefully my LoN builds don't end up like that Crusader
      The addition of those 2 ring slots, as well as the new legendary powers coming with Season 17 only adds to the variety the game has been lacking for a while now and I'd say it really is the perfect time for anyone that's been away from the game for a while to come back to it. Even though the season hasn't even started yet, I can only pray Blizzard decide to keep this modifier active after it's over, as it's a perfect fit for Diablo 3 and truly brings out the best aspects of the game.
      Season 17 is expected to arrive sometime mid-May, as S16 ends on May 12th, and if you want to check out everything that's coming with the new season, you can check out the patch notes here.
      So, what do you guys think of this (imo) significant change to the game? Will you be coming back and does it have you excited for the build possibilities? Will you be using a pre-made optimal LoN build from guides or will you be crafting your own weird little legendary power combos, and do you already have some in mind? Do share!
      The next Season is a perfect time to come back to the game and here's why.
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