Monday Musings – Soul Lashers Suck Edition   13 comments

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(This is not a screenshot of me, it’s merely a representation of how I spent my day yesterday that I found on Google images, and is apparently a monk. So, thank you Hammor for also dying, and posting about it on the internet! I would give better credit for this picture than that, but unfortunately that is all I have!)

On WoW

We are still clearing out heroic DS weekly. We are still farming Firehawks for all of our members weekly. We are still trying to hear how awesome we are weekly. And we are still recruiting for MoP/DS farming (http://www.monolithwow.com)! Other than that, WoW has been very quiet for me.

One of the more interesting things I’ve been pondering on in WoW right now isn’t the future of druids in MoP, or what the latest beta changes are, but rather how hard it must be to be a trial in any guild right now. Between the end of the expansion, Diablo 3 and summer, non-raid times are extremely quiet inside of WoW. Our medium population server is quiet, our guild is quiet, the game in and of itself is quiet. That being said, I can log in and my friends list at any given time will have at least 10 people on it from the guild (often more), but all in Diablo. As I understand it, this is fairly typical for most guilds right now. The problem that it causes, though, is that I think it’s very hard for a trial to find their footing in a guild when there is one and a half raid nights a week. It’s hard to get to know people. It’s hard to find how you fit into the structure of the guild. It’s just hard to find your place.

I don’t fault anyone for doing things outside of WoW during the down time right now. I actually encourage it, so that people are fresh and ready for the new expansion, myself included. But I do feel for those people trying to find their place in a new home. And, unfortunately, having not been “new” to a guild for over seven years, I don’t have any sage advice for how to ease that transition during this quiet time other than to say things will pick up when Mists get here and finding your footing will get easier.

On Diablo

This weekend I had two very different Diablo experiences. Brade and I have been playing our Inferno characters pretty exclusively co-op. However, this weekend Brade went out on Friday night with a friend to see Prometheus and then had an all day Axis and Allies thing on Saturday. As such, I found that I was left with a lot of free time to myself on my hands on these two days. And so I thought I might try Inferno by myself.

On Solo Inferno

Now, I didn’t want to progress the story without Brade since this is something we’ve been doing together and rather enjoying. So I thought I might try a Warden/Butcher run. Truth be told, I was pretty terrified. I’d not played solo since entering Nightmare and I was scared that I would find out that I am terrible at Diablo and that Brade had been carrying me the whole time. In fact, I was so self-conscious about this, that I almost chickened out of even trying. But, I pulled my boot straps up, put my pride in check and reminded myself that if I never took risks in life (and ffs, this is a VIRTUAL life) I would never know what I was capable of doing.

And so I went and started the run. And you know what? I did just fine. All by myself. Literally. As I forgot that I had the ability to hire a companion, and so did the entire run alone. I cleared every elite pack (I only died once!), and I quickly learned that I was foolish to be such a chicken shit. I killed the Warden with ease, and would have killed the Butcher with ease as well I think, but a friend joined me for the kill since we were planning a Maghda run when I finished, and his public game finished earlier than my run. Anyhow, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I did something that scared me and as a result my confidence in myself increased. And that was kind of fun.

I think that I will try a Maghda run next time I have the opportunity to spread my wings and try a little more solo play.

On Co-op Zultan Kulle, Belial and Act 3

With only having Sunday to progress our game this weekend, Brade and I made the most of it. Oh god, we played so much Diablo on Sunday. We started the day innocently enough with going out to breakfast, doing the grocery shopping, walking the dog. But from about noon to 11 pm that night it was all about Diablo. We started in Act 2, with the objective to reassemble Zultan Kulle. While we were doing this, we were joined by another friend and so did the remaining part of Act 2 with two demon hunters and myself (a witch doctor).

This was a fairly effective group, and we progressed through Act 2 fairly easily. However, I quickly put my pride aside and learned that there are some elite packs that just aren’t worth the time/effort it takes to kill them…and then there are some elite packs that are pretty much just impossible to kill. I went from feeling guilty about skipping packs, to thinking “oh thank god we don’t have to kill these”. Also? Lacuni packs with immune, minions, illusion or fast can suck it. Actually, I suppose I could have just stopped that statement at “Lacuni packs”.

Zultan Kulle was pretty easy, all things considered. He took us two pulls in all, and I could see him being easily farmed. I think building up the NV stacks to kill him would be the most time consuming part of the adventure. I have no clue if he’s worth farming or not, but that is something to consider another time.

Let’s talk a minute about Belial.

Belial is my bane. I have had trouble with this fight every time I see him, so it did not surprise me that I was our weak phase 3 link on our kill (i.e. dead). I’ve read every tip I can about surviving him, and somehow I inevitably find myself face planted. As a group, we fairly easily navigated phase 1. We had some ups and downs in phase 2, and this is probably where we spent most of our time on the fight, but made steady progress most pulls. And then phase 3. I think we only saw phase 3 three times before we killed him. And in my defense, I did pull off some miracle rezzes in some of our earlier pulls. All in all, we probably spent forty-five minutes to an hour on the fight. It’s hard to know for certain. We took a small break shortly after our NV stacks dropped and then came back and got him on the second pull.

I pretty firmly believe that Belial is one of the hardest bosses in the game. In fact, I even made the statement that “THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN BELIAL IN THIS GAME” at some point in our work on him. Little did I know that I was about to be proven very, very wrong. But at the time, it seemed a pretty accurate ascertation! Once we killed him, I was feeling a little spent (and mildly frustrated), and was debating taking a break or going back and farming some. But we decided to push on into Act 3 and see what it had to offer.

Before I talk anymore about Act 3, I feel like I should let you all know that my ass is still sore from how many times I had it handed to me last night.

As we started Act 3, our very first elite pack was a yellow that had extra life. I don’t even know what his other attributes were (probably mortar…because, ugh), just that he had extra life. He was one of the mobs that are already pretty beefy without a buff, so it was like he had extra-extra life. I very quickly started to wonder if we were in over our heads – or if this mob was just terrible. The further we got into the act, I came to the conclusion that it was a little from column A and a little from column B. Anyhow, we finally got all the signal fires lit and were heading lift the catapults when we hit back to back hellflayer/screamer whatever they are called packs (the birds)…with fast and mortar. BOTH PACKS. For the first time since we started playing, Brade got frustrated.

This bothered me for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was that I’m usually the frustrated one and he is the calming force. If he was frustrated, I didn’t have a chance in hell of keeping it together. But, somehow, we turned it around and our frustration turned back into laughter. But damn, screw those birds. Seriously. In time we got the catapults up, and went into the depths of the keep. And I found something that was worse that both Belial and those damn birds. In fact, you could probably add those birds TO Belial and this would probably still be worse.

Soul Lashers.

Soul Lasher packs are probably the most unfun thing I’ve ever experienced. After resetting our instance twice due to early soul lasher packs, we finally gave up the ghost on the idea of NV, and unceremoniously skipped every last one of them. Fast? Invulnerable? Minions? Illusion? Damage reflect? It doesn’t matter, they all suck. At this point, we were joined by another guildmate, another demon hunter. So we were now running a four party co-op of three demon hunters and one witch doctor. All of whom would die from a single hit of a soul lasher. I am not ashamed to admit that we killed Gohrm without a single stack of NV.

In fact, I think I will even state that going through the keep was probably the worst gaming experience that I’ve ever had. Before we finished for the night, regardless of how tired I was, I was dead set on finding a check point, because I will never do that part of the game on Inferno again. (Ok, maybe I’ll see what it’s like after the nerf…). I don’t know if other people find dying repeatedly while you try to kite a pack to an isolated room, or graveyard humping your way past them, “fun, challenging and engaging” game play, but for me it pretty much just sucked. In fact, it sucked so badly that it became hilarious. All I could do each time we hit one of these packs was laugh uncontrollably at our shenanigans as we tried to get past them.

After experiencing these, I can certainly see why people quit on Inferno. In fact, if I hadn’t been in a group of friends who were sharing in my exquisite pain as we navigated these, I might have been one of those people. That being said, I’m glad that I was with a group of friends. I am glad that my mettle was stronger than those who have quit and I’m glad that I was able to navigate through them. I just don’t think I will ever do it again! Well, at least not any time in my near, foreseeable future.

I’m so worn out from our Act 3 experiences last night that I think the next couple of nights I am going to either putz around on another character or farm. Likely a combination of both…since my Act 3 progression last night probably cost me in excess of 300k gold in potions and repairs.

On the Proposed Repair Cost Increase

This seems to dovetail nicely into this particular topic. I kind of want to be optimistic and say “let’s see what happens” when it comes to the nerfs and the repair cost changes that are coming down the pike. But I’ve been a bit worried about the repair cost changes since they announced them, and after last night, my concerns have grown. I’m not entirely sure how to bifurcate how much I spent on pots and how much on repairs, since I know that I bought 30+ potions at a time multiple times last night, which is not an insignificant expense, but I do know that I repaired fully broken a good number of times. And, honestly, depending on the bump in cost, I don’t know if I would have been able to afford the progression.

I don’t have a ton of time to play outside of Saturday and Sunday. I don’t particularly enjoy the “Auction House Game”, I didn’t in WoW and I don’t really in Diablo. I will sell a few of my good drops, and I will look for affordable upgrades, but I don’t “play” the auction house. It’s not fun to me and it’s not how I want to spend the time I have playing the game. I am not one of those people with millions and millions of gold. Who knows, maybe that will change and I’ll get some lucky drop that I can sell for obscene amounts, but right now I’m pretty “poor” by most standards. I started last night with just under 1mm gold. I finished the night with just over 600k gold. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did drop the 200k to buy my final bank tab at the start of our play yesterday. But even with that, assuming that I made some gold along the way, I still spent an obscene amount on repairs and potions – roughly one-third of my net worth. An increase in repairs would have potentially bankrupted me to the point that I would have no choice but to go back and farm for gold/drops to sell. And that kind of makes me sad. Granted, maybe I could just be “less bad” – but we did just talk about those soul lasher packs, right?

Anyhow, I really hope that the increase in repairs is thought about very carefully. I also hope that the retuning that is going to happen in Act 2-4 will make it so that killing myself to get around something isn’t the preferred treatment of certain packs.

I could probably talk for another hour about my thoughts on Diablo, but I think I’ll stop here for now. I’d be curious to know how your adventures in either Diablo or WoW are going. Are you still enjoying Diablo? How are you finding the lull in WoW?

Posted June 11, 2012 by Beruthiel in Brain Dump, Diablo, Guild Management

13 responses to “Monday Musings – Soul Lashers Suck Edition

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  1. It could be worse, you could be playing with melee characters.

  2. I should expand on that prior comment. With the gear I currently have, I can walk through Act 1 in an offensive build like it’s Nightmare or Hell. Act 2 normal mobs 1/2 hit me in the same gear using a defensive build.

    I’m waiting on the patch to smooth things out.

    • Hopefully the retuning will happen sooner rather than later :)

      I was actually surprised you went with a monk, since I had thought you were thinking about a ranged class early on! Shows what I know :)

      • In most games (even WoW), I really gravitate toward melee characters. I love being in the gray and punching the monsters myself. In WoW, I hate caster DPS, but I love healing, since it’s almost a completely different game.

  3. Repair and potion bills aside, making progress in Act 3 of inferno is no small feat. Congrats! So consider me cheering from the sidelines. Of course, like Borsk, I play melee (barbarian), so spending 20 minutes kiting Zoltun Kulle in a ranged “I chuck my weapon at you” build is the norm for my progression. Fun. But probably not intended gameplay, and it likely skews my sense of reasonable.

    • I am really happy about the progress we made, even if parts of it were painful! :)

      I am glad to hear that they are fixing things for melee some! Good Luck to you!

  4. Yeah, I’m done with D3. Inferno is nuts. So many things wrong with the game. The randomness of the stat system is bizarre. How is forcing me to spend hours browsing the AH fun?? Why bother even leveling blacksmith since it’s all random. Mobs are wildly imbalanced, some very easy, some impossible.
    I’m disappointed overall. Bottom line is that I’m relieved that I did not have to spend $60 on this game.

    • Parts of Inferno are a touch overtuned, I agree, but they are going to rutune some of it! As for the stats – that is just Diablo. It’s how all of them have worked. I don’t think you have to spend hours browsing the AH, I do 20 minutes or so before I log in to play, will spend a few minutes between acts or if we lose our NV and at the end of the night, if I’m not too tired. If yo know what stats you want it is very easy to filter things down and make relatively efficient searches.

      It sounds more to me like you are just not a Diablo fan, than anything else :)

  5. Short form:
    Blizzard said they want people to need to farm Inferno to progress. But because of various dexterity/kiting/etc issues, you can get lucky and progress without it. They are increasing the death tax to specifically get people to play the ‘fun’ way and farm.

    Long form:
    I’m pretty sure they’ve been clear that the point is you *should* be farming earlier difficulties in order to progress. It was designed this way so that you could play for months without ‘finishing’ it. I only found a copy of the original quote but if you look here:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Blizzard-Diablo-3-Inferno-Action-RPG-Pc-Gaming,15193.html
    “So for the crazy people who play non-stop, they’ll hit Act I and get a challenge, but 1 month later they’ll still have something to work on (Acts II, III and IV). For the ‘hardcore-casual’ they will reach level 60 later and not get brick walled when they reach Inferno. They can experience some ‘small victories’ working on Act I with the dream of maybe someday reaching the later acts.”

    Arguably they actually didn’t make it as hard as they wanted to, if only because of specific DH/WZ builds (which did end up getting nerfed). You were supposed to need to farm Act I for ~ 1 month to get enough items to be able to make it into Act 2, to repeat to do the same for Act 3, etc.

    People saw that you could zerg rush/graveyard rush to progress really far, and Bliz realized that their design failed. So they are penalizing graveyard rushing. Specifically because it “isn’t fun to play that way”.

    The point is, you didn’t have fun graveyarding your way past the mobs. The Blizzard approved way is to grind Act 2 until you can do act 3 *without* graveyarding it. Because you could spend a modest portion of your fortune to progress, Bliz decided to push harder on the “you need to grind to progress”.

    There is certainly a fair bit of blacksmith confusion while leveling. Because of the random stat drops, you can pay a large sum of money to unlock a level of the blacksmith, then expect to pay a lot of money trying to gamble for an item (if an item sells for 100g, it probably costs 1000-10000g to attempt to craft it once, and you need to craft lets say 10 times to get something you want). On top of that, people are out-leveling their gear, and rather than throwing it away, they can put it on the AH.

    So you can craft your own gear, at maybe 100x the cost of vendoring it. That gives a huge room for out-leveled gear to be sold at say 10x, still be very very worth it for the person who would otherwise be throwing it away, and still be very very worth it for the person who would have to craft it.

    Blizzard mentioned wanting to balance the Blacksmith as well, but they’ll need to tune the cost a lot. I think if it cost 2x vendor cost to craft an item. then it would make sense to use the bs. You’d still need several tries, but 5 tries gets you to 10x the cost of vendoring it. (So gather 20 blues ~1 inventory, sell half, salvage half, craft 5-10 times and you have 1 new item that is good for you, and probably 1-2 items that are good for a different toon.)

    You’d still end up with gear inflation in the AH, because so much more would get crafted, and some of it would be ‘perfect’. And because of the out-leveling aspect, you’d still end up with a lot of stuff that is worth selling and buying to level to get better stuff.

    Not to mention the exponential gear and gold increases. (The largest stack of gold I’ve seen in Inferno Act 1 is about 1200g, and I’ve seen 5-700g in Act 4 Hell, both with 5-stack NV and pretty much no extra Gold Find.)
    So you have a very large incentive to get to the end and farm there, because everything else is relatively crap. (I have found that farming Act 4 Hell with a dps spec monk is probably more profitable at this point than farming Act 1 Inferno as a full-defense spec, and I die about the same amount.)

    • Just as a clear description of their intent: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5590647017#8
      A blue post discussing what their goal is for the re-tuning.

    • I am aware of the statements that Blizzard has made with regards to both the increased repair costs and the retuning, as I actively follow both diablo news and diablo forum communities as well. The issue with “farming” for upgrades is that no number of upgrades will offset some of the tuning issues found in Act 3 (I can’t speak to Act 4), hence the retuning that Blizzard intends to do. If Blizzard felt they “got it right”, they wouldn’t be making adjustments.

      We pushed a little farther into act 3 last night, killing siege breaker (or whatever his name is) and killed every blue pack on the way with moderate difficulty. We also killed a few blue packs knocking out the ballistas with little difficulty. So you will have to excuse me for continuing to think that there is an issue with the soul lasher packs, but I don’t think that I’m going to rescind my statement that they suck and that I’m unlikely to do that portion of the zone on Inferno again.

      As far as Act 1 goes, we didn’t really have any issues with it coming straight from Hell. Act 2 was more challenging, but we didn’t really have many problems there either, and didn’t have to “graveyard zerg” anything that I can recall – or if we did it was the exception and not the rule. So I’m not entirely sure that I agree 100% with your assement on difficulty, intended or otherwise.

      I have both my Jewelcrafter and my Blacksmith at level 10. I’ve even ventured to make some of the rare patterns I’ve picked up. And they’ve been rubbish and not with either the gold or the materials it cost to craft them.

      We do farm runs. We shop the AH for upgrades….every night, sometimes multiple times a night. We aren’t simply expecting to have Inferno just roll over for us. We do expect it to be challenging and have to work for our acehivements. But there is also a fine line between challenge and “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me”.

      You will have to forgive me if I sound a little defensive, I found the tone of your post patronizing, and it didn’t sit well. If yo didn’t intend to come off that way, perhaps take a few minutes to re-evaluate how you say things :)

  6. Oh my god those lashers sucked so hard >.> Trying to get those into some side room was a bit hilarious and sadly I was too tired to know what was happening. My solo experience has been shaky at best so I hope I can hook up with people again sometime for more Co-op

    • The keep, so far, has been the worst part, but we have the spire ahead of us. I don’t think we will takle that until this weekend, because I think it’s going to take a while to get through…and there are more lashed packs. After Sunday I need time to recoup mentally. We pushed siege breaker last night, because Brade really wanted to – and I wish we hadn’t, because I found myself short tempered and snappy :(

      I think the rest of the week we will farm and play other characters most likely! And then try the spire over the weekend.

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