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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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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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Uncommon Patron

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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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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      Developer's Note: With Patch 2.6.8, we're adding three(!) new class sets with similar goals to those we included in the previous patch. Each set was designed primarily with boosting long-requested skills and play styles we lifted directly from community feedback. Frenzy, Spirit Barrage, and Hydra were requests that offered a lot of opportunity for gameplay exploration, and we're looking forward to seeing what players do with these new tools at their disposal. Additional changes to associated supplemental Legendaries have been included to round out these builds. It is critical when providing feedback on these sets to include whether or not you were using the Season 20 buff during your testing; while feedback of any kind is welcome, we're especially interested in Non-Seasonal testing as that will better reflect the long-term performance of these sets. Mantle of Channeling The bonus granted by this item now occurs 1 second after channeling has begun Barbarian Developer's Note: We wanted to provide an alternative method to gaining the benefit of the 2-Piece bonus of Horde of the Ninety Savages. Adding in Frozen as an option allows this benefit to work on bosses, provides an alternative gearing option, and should work better in groups without having to remove an option for play. New Class Set: Horde of the Ninety Savages 2-Piece Bonus: Double the effectiveness of all Shouts. Feared and Frozen Enemies take double damage. 4-Piece Bonus: Each stack of Frenzy reduces damage taken by 5% 6%. Frenzy lasts twice as long. 6-Piece Bonus: Frenzy deals 1000% increased damage per stack. The Undisputed Champion Frenzy gains the effect of every rune and deals 300-400% increased damage. Bastion's Revered Frenzy now stacks up to 10 times and hits an additional time per stack. Each additional hit will chain to any enemies within 15 yards and the damage is split between all affected enemies. Witch Doctor Developer's Note: Many of the changes we made for the Witch Doctor focused on improving the set's survivability and server performance. We also improved the behavior of Big Bad Voodoo, so it should be much less likely to be left behind! New Class Set: Mundunugu's Regalia 2-Piece Bonus: Big Bad Voodoo now follows you and lasts twice as long. Big Bad Voodoo will now follow you more closely, across zones, and correctly in groups 4-Piece Bonus: Gain 50% 60% damage reduction for 30 seconds when you enter the Spirit Realm. 6-Piece Bonus: Spirit Barrage deals increased damage equal to 100 times 50% of your Mana Regeneration per Second. Developer Note: This isn't actually a buff or a nerf; it's a rewording to make the functionality of this bonus more clear. The Barber Instead of dealing direct damage, your Spirit Barrage now accumulates on the target. When you stop casting, it explodes dealing 225-250% 400-500% of the accumulated damage to all enemies within 15 yards. Is now classified as a Ceremonial Dagger, with a base 1.4 attack speed Gazing Demise Spirit Barrage gains the Phantasm rune. Each active Phantasm lasts twice as long, increases the damage of Spirit Barrage by 40-50% 250-300%, and also increases the attack rate from Manitou spectres. PTR CHANGE: The attack rate granted to Manitou specters has been slightly reduced. Ring of Emptiness You deal 250-300% increased damage to enemies affected by both either your Haunt and or Locust Swarm. Wizard Developer's Note: Wizard encountered a lot of bugs with its new class set, so please make sure to check the Bug Fixes section below for additional detail! We did consider adding another skill into The Typhon's Veil, but we believe there's more work to do first on Wizard Legendary options to make choices outside of the Etched Sigil/Deathwish/Mantle of Channeling combo more appealing. We're looking at this now as a longer term goal, as we have plans to do much larger overall balance passes in the future after all the new class sets have been added to the game. New Class Set: The Typhon's Veil 2-Piece Bonus: Double the duration of Hydras and increase the number of heads on multi-headed Hydras by two. 4-Piece Bonus: Damage taken is reduced by 8% for each Hydra head alive as long as there is one available. Each time you take damage, a Hydra heads dies. Heads cannot die more than once every 2 seconds 6-Piece Bonus: Hydras deal 1000% 1200% increased damage for each Hydra head alive. Serpent's Sparker You may have one extra Hydra active at a time and they deal 450-600% 350-450% increased damage. The Magistrate Frost Hydra Your Hydras now periodically casts Frost Nova and deal 450-600% 350-450% increased damage. Etched Sigil The bonus granted by this item now occurs 1 second after channeling has begun. Deathwish The bonus granted by this item now occurs 1 second after channeling has begun.   Bugs
      Several issues with adding/removing players to group and starting new games as a group have been resolved Captain Crimson's Trimmings Fixed an issue where the set bonus did not increase damage reduction when using DevourVoracious Barbarian Fixed a bug where Threatening ShoutGrim Harvest would not activate when enhanced by the Horde of the Ninety Savages set bonus Crusader Corrected the spelling of “Imperius” on the flavor text for several pieces of the Aegis of Valor set Fixed an issue where the bolts cast by Fist of the HeavensDivine Well failed to zap enemies Demon Hunter Fixed an issue where In-geom was not properly dropping for Demon Hunters Wizard PTR CHANGE: Arcane Dynamo should now properly apply to extra Hydra heads created by The Typhon's Veil PTR CHANGE: Fixed a bug where active Shields would not prevent Hydra heads from dying while utilizing The Typhon's Veil Fixed a bug where Arcane Torrent would get an extra damage multiplier from Etched Sigil and Deathwish Fixed a bug where HydraFrost Hydra was getting a damage bonus instead of Attack Speed bonus from its owner's Attack Speed; this rune now benefits from Attack Speed in the same manner as other Hydra runes   PTR Only Changes
      Djank Mi'em's Bag of Fortunes now also include crafting materials
      Related articles:
      Deadset's Thoughts on the New Sets, Season Power and Legendaries
      Blue Clarifications and Comments on Season 20 PTR Patch Notes
      Preliminary Patch 2.6.8 Patch Notes & Season 20 Details
      Developer Insights: Balancing & Class Set Design
      All Diablo 3 Season Durations
      9 Uber Diablos Spawned in One Place (Video)
      Seasonal Rotations?
      Patch 2.6.7b Notes - Killstreak Exploit and Cheat Death Fix
      Solo GR 150 Exploit - Probable Bans Incoming
      Blues on Addons and Bots, 10,000+ Paragon, Brawl Leveling and Angel Squishiness
      All Class Guides for Diablo 3 Season 19, Patch 2.6.7a
    • By Stan
      Blizzard is intending to launch a new 2.6.8 build on the PTR during the ongoing test cycle, but major changes past the second patch are not expected, because they would put the build at risk before it hits live servers.
      Blizzard (Source)
      As we are nearing the end of the first week of the PTR, is there a sense if/when we will get a patch? I know that Nev said that Blizzard are consolidating bug fixes/other potential changes, but it would be nice to have a week to test things.
      I’m taking a super fast break from updating the incoming PTR patch notes to let you know that that’s exactly what we’re doing; we are intending to launch another patch during this cycle to get a handful of changes back to you to test for the remainder of the PTR.
      Bear in mind that doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily be completely done with the patch. We’d like you to continue testing after this patch to root out any more critical bugs and continue to offer feedback. However, major changes will be more unlikely past this second patch, as the larger the changes, the more it puts the build at risk before it hits live servers.
      Just the same, we’re still committed to ongoing balance even past the live deployment of 2.6.8. If something continues to perform too well or not well enough, we can (and likely will) continue to revisit both the new sets and other existing sets at a later date. 
      Now, back to HTML and proofreading for me.
      Should I interpret this as that after this upcoming patch things like functionalities of the new sets are locked in?
      Correct. We’re actively trying to avoid a similar situation to 2.6.7. That’s both why we had the longer testing period and tried to squeeze in an extra PTR patch.
      Just sent off the patch notes for approval. Assuming all goes, well, we’re hoping to deploy it tomorrow (CAVEAT: as with all things PTR, there’s always a possibility it gets delayed to next week).
      I’ll try to keep ya’ll updated should things change drastically. 
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