Sonntag, 29. März 2015

Diablo 3: Expansion 2 feat. Baal, Mephisto & the Druid Class?


The Diablo 3 Content Patch 2.2 goes live on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 (April 8 in Europe), and Season 3 will be starting worldwide shortly after on Friday, April 10. The first thing to be noticed here is the very short duration of Season 2 which began on February 13 this year and ends after just 7 weeks next Sunday, April 5. As a comparison: Season 1 launched on August 29, 2014 and ended on February 3, 2015, which is almost a half year.
The long duration of Season 1 can be explained by the simple fact that it was a "test" to see how things develop, but what about Season 2? Was the "Sever" exploit and therefore the false Leaderboards results the cause? Hardly, because in this case Blizzard would simply fix the bug and reset the Leaderboards. The true reason was very likely the product schedule which dictates at which time which patch and Season has to go live, and the product in question is the second Diablo 3 expansion.
BlizzCon 2015 is returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on November 6 and 7, 2015, and I'd be very surprised if Blizzard isn't going to announce the 6th World of WarCraft expansion here (the 5th expansion "Warlords of Draenor" launched on November 13, 2014). This leaves the world's largest computer games fair gamescom for the revelation of the second Diablo 3 expansion, which will be open from August 5 to 9, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. To cut a long story short, patch 2.2, Season 3, and the following Ruins of Sescheron content patch (and maybe Season 4, too) should all go live before gamescom because - and that's the crux of the matter - the ruins and associated quests and/or lore are likely a prelude to the story in expansion 2. So, what can we expect in the future? Read on if you're interested in some tangible speculation!

Story & Features of the Diablo 3 Expansion 2

The End of the Reaper of Souls and the Rise of the Nephalem

The Reaper of Souls (RoS or D3X1 for short) expansion ends with a pretty solid hint at the possible fate of the nephalem (you, the player) in the not-so-far future. The following video is a complete recap of the Angel of Death quest including the final ingame cinematic, which can not only be looked at as ending of RoS but also as teaser and prologue of the second expansion a.k.a. D3X2.

The "Angel of Death" questline is the last of the RoS Campaign Mode,
and it surprises with a pretty clear forecast of the things to come

This are Tyrael's famous last words: "...but within him [the nephalem] beats a mortal heart, that will one day be tempted to corruption. On that day, will he have the strength to resist, or will he be our doom?"
On his quest to defeat the former Archangel and now Aspect of Death Malthael, the nephalem is going to enter the "shadow world" after destroying the Soul Prison chain because only in that state he'll be able to attack and end the Reaper. He is successful but it begs the question if the exposure to the realm of shadows made the hero much more sensitive for corruption. Are the nephalem's glowing eyes we're seeing in the final ingame cinematic a sign of the growing hate and hunger for more power, which will eventually lead to him/her joining the "dark side"? This would mean that - after the events of Diablo I - we would change roles once again in D3X2, i.e. the nephalem becomes a "dark wanderer", and we - the adventurers - have to prevent him/her from joining Evil (hint: If you're not familiar with the Diablo lore, IGN posted a nice 5-minute video recap here on YouTube).

Before I continue, I'll make a very quick TLDR summary of some major events in the Diablo universe so that you can follow my speculations. If you want to know more about the here mentioned characters, locations, artefacts etc, just follow the Diablo Wiki links provided in the text.

The Dragon Reborn

In the beginning, Anu was the ultimate good, and Tathamet was the ultimate evil in the form of a seven-headed dragon. They warred against each other in an unending battle for ages uncounted. Neither could gain the upper hand and finally, they delivered their final blows resulting in a clash of light and darkness that gave birth to the universe itself, killing them both. Anu's legacy were The Eye of Anu, later known as the Worldstone, and the Crystal Arch, around which the High Heavens took shape and from which the angels came into existence. The archangels, like Auriel, Imperius or Tyrael, are living embodiments of the virtues of Anu.
From Tathamet's putrid flesh arose the realms of the Burning Hells, and the race of demons. Additionally, his seven heads spawned the Great Evils, namely Baal, Diablo and Mephisto (the three Prime Evils), and Andariel, Azmodan, Belial and Duriel (the four Lesser Evils).
Again uncounted ages later, Tathamet, in some sense, returned to the face of creation because Diablo, the Lord of Terror, was able to combine the essences of the other six Evils through the Black Soulstone into his own "body", becoming a singular Prime Evil. While he was defeated by the nephalem (in Diablo 3), his spirit returned to the Black Soulstone, and through the destruction of the stone at the hands of Malthael during the final encounter in RoS (see the "Angel of Death" video above), he was released into creation once more.

So, this is where we stand right now: Diablo is free again, and the Black Soulstone, which "forged" his last incarnation as "Singular Prime Evil", is destroyed. The nephalem (you, the player) has overcome Evil in numerous forms, you are more powerful than ever, and Diablo has to find other means to subdue you.

Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred

It remains to be seen how the Diablo team develops the lore further in D3X2. Is the "Singular Prime Evil" Diablo able to maintain his form now that the Black Soulstone, an artefact of incredible power, is destroyed? Is the stone destroyed at all, or have its shards landed somewhere on Sanctuary, just like the shards of Tyrael's sword did in Diablo 3? Is the third Diablo possibly decomposed again into the Great and Lesser Evils?
I personally would love to see my favorite "baddies" back in action, namely Mephisto and Baal, because it would be incredibly boring if we were now left with just one "Uber Diablo" that chases us for the rest of our days. The chances that the first option becomes reality are actually pretty good, and I'll tell you why.

Mephisto (left side) and Baal -
Both portraits already exist in the RoS game files

Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred and formerly imprisoned in the Temple City of Travincal in Kurast, is the number one address when it comes to corruption. It was him who corrupted the High Council of Zakarum, and eventually sent Archbishop Lazarus to reawaken his brother Diablo, which set all things in motion. Both a portrait of Baal and Mephisto can already be found in the RoS game files, although none of them made an appearance yet except in the journals. Additionally, a BlizzCon 2011 Scavenger Hunt contained a Diablo 3 jungle artwork (see the left picture below), and Blizzard concept artist Peter Lee posted a Kurast image (right picture), which may hint to Kurast as one region in D3X2.

Two official Diablo 3 jungle concept arts

If I were Diablo now, I'd send Mephisto to corrupt the nephalem and convince him to join the dark side. Kurast would be an exciting and iconic location for this, too.

Baal, the Lord of Destruction

If you say Sescheron, you must also say Baal, Lord of Destruction. Sescheron was besieged by the Prime Evil Baal and his Army of Destruction during their assault on Mount Arreat. Now, Sescheron lies empty, and monsters have come up from the forests and down from the mountains to infest its ruins. The following video shows a snippet from the Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction intro cinematic with said siege, and a slideshow preview of the upcoming Ruins of Sescheron, which will be available in the Adventure Mode of Diablo 3 in Act 3 near the Arreat Crater.

Do the Ruins of Sescheron point to Baal as one of the D3X2 antagonists?

Are the ruins a prelude to D3X2, just like the Timeless Isle was to WoW: Warlords of Draenor? I'd say "Yes" because the timing is perfect. What is Baal up to? I don't know but he may be the link to the next Diablo 3 class.

Druids, the nomadic Warrior-Poet-Kings

When their homeland was shattered by Baal and his Army of Destruction and the Worldstone destroyed, many Barbarians lost faith. They became aimless, haunted by their past, traveling from place to place without honor or direction. But not all Barbarians have given up their vigil. Some still honor the harsh snows of Arreat's summit and prowl the outskirts of its crater. Even though Azmodan could eventually be defeated, the weakened region and social chaos would be an easy target for a reinvigorated Baal and his demons. Such a scenario would be a great opportunity to have the Barbarians call upon the help of their cousins, the Druids of Scosglen, a hybrid shapeshifter class that in my opinion is sorely needed in Diablo 3.

Blizzard concept artist David Ko posted some Diablo 3 Druid images -
Note that they are obviously able to use bows and spears

The Druids entered Scosglen at around the same time Bul-Kathos, the Immortal King, united the Barbarian tribes of the Northern Steppes. Vasily, a brother of Bul-Kathos, gathered together a small group consisting of the tribes' greatest warrior-poets and shamans and retreated into the forests surrounding the area known as Scosglen. There he and his people created the first of the Druid Colleges, forging a new way of life for themselves (source). More about the Druids and their role as a playable class in "Lord of Destruction" can be found here.

Now, you may think that two Diablo 3 Druid artworks are a bit thin to speculate upon, but there's more. The following image is from the slideshow that the Diablo team presented during BlizzCon 2014, when the Ruins of Sescheron were introduced as future RoS content. It shows one concept for the "Rat King", the boss of the ruins.

Is there some Moonkin DNA in this Rat King concept?

It might be a red herring, but I bet it was either a Freudian slip or a teaser. What we are looking at here seems to be some misshapen Druid, and because that would have given away too much in advance (Sescheron goes live before D3X2), they finally ditched it and made another Rat King model.

Last, but not least, I want to share an interesting restriction when you create your hero in Diablo 3. Before RoS came out, I could create a female witch doctor named "Adria" (after the infamous witch). She is still alive and kicking as you can see on the following left image, and I haven't been forced to rename her (yet). After RoS came out, it was not possible anymore to create a hero named "Adria", so there's obviously a database with "forbidden" names active now.

The names "Adria" and "Vasily" are not allowed for player characters

Yesterday, I did the test and tried to create a new character named "Vasily", who is the aforementioned leader of the Druids in Diablo. I'm sure you've already guessed what happened (see the right picture).

That's it so far with my speculations about the possible contents of the next Diablo 3 expansion. Whether or not all, or at least some of it is confirmed should be known soon. If nothing is confirmed, then you should have read some entertaining fan fiction that makes the wait for D3X2 a little shorter. ^^

- Nobbie, the Lord of Construction

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Donnerstag, 26. März 2015

Diablo 3: The Legendary Items of Season 3 (Patch 2.2)

The Diablo 3 Content Patch 2.2 goes live on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 (April 8 in Europe), and Season 3 will be starting worldwide shortly after on Friday, April 10. The start times for all regions can be found here.

Patch 2.2 makes many more character builds viable for Torment 6 difficulty thanks to new and reworked items as well as several new game mechanics. Especially hardly used primary and secondary skills including associated (older) legendary items will profit a lot, and defensive shortcomings have been addressed, too, to make such builds work in Nephalem Rifts and higher level Greater Rifts. To accommodate the goal of better performance for all builds in the competitive Leaderboard environment, another batch of seasonal Legendaries can be acquired with the start of Season 3.

Following is a list of these new build-/game-changing items incl. links/tooltips from the official Diablo 3 game guide. Note that the links/tooltips of the new patch 2.2 items will not be active before the update has been deployed on the live realms. The unique properties of every item have therefore been added in this preview as well.

New legendary Gems
  • Iceblink (Defensive & Offensive)
    • Your Cold skills now apply Chill effects and your Chill effects now Slow enemy movement by an additional 5% (increases with each level). At Rank 25: Gain 10% increased Critical Chance against Chilled and Frozen enemies.
  • Mutilation Guard (Defensive)
    • Gain 10% melee damage reduction (increases with each level). At Rank 25: While below 30% Life, you may move unhindered through enemies.
  • Bane of the Stricken (Offensive)
    • Each attack you make against an enemy increases the damage it takes from your attacks by 10% Weapon damage (increases with each level). At Rank 25: Allied players, followers, and pets also benefit from this effect.
      Note: This planned gem has been removed from patch 2.2 during PTR testing.

Reworked legendary Armor & Weapons

New legendary Armor & Weapons

New legendary Potions

As with previously reworked Seasonal items, once patch 2.2 launches, these items will no longer drop in non-Seasonal games and will remain removed from the non-Seasonal Legendary pool until Season 3 concludes. Good luck finding good and maybe Ancient ones! :)

- Nobbie

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Dienstag, 24. März 2015

Diablo 3: Immortal King Barbarian - Seismic Smackdown Edition

The following guide and video have been created on March 24, 2015 on the Diablo 3 Patch 2.2 PTR, build 30537. Note that anything shown here may be subject to change until the final release candidate build goes live.


The Diablo 3 Patch 2.2 will be released on April 7, 2015, heralding the start of Season 3. The synopsis of the latest content update is that it makes many more character builds viable for Torment 6 difficulty thanks to new and revised items as well as several new game mechanics. Especially hardly used primary and secondary skills including associated (older) legendary items will profit a lot, and defensive shortcomings have been addressed, too, to make such builds work in Rifts and higher level Greater Rifts.

The following guide for the popular barbarian demonstrates how the patch makes a previously mediocre "fun" build really shine in the endgame. If you have been waiting for an update that finally delivers on the promise of the earth-shattering, monster-smashing "hammer" barbarian, this guide is for you!


The Immortal King's Call barbarian set gets a huge improvement with the Diablo 3 patch 2.2. Its bonuses have been shifted around, modified, and a seventh set item gives you more room for improvisation/build options (see the following picture). Getting permanent Ancients with just two set items easily puts you at Torment 3/4 difficulty right from the start. The next bonus, available at 4 set pieces, basically grants you permanent Wrath of the Berserker. The ability that was frowned upon when perma-Berserker "Spin to Win" barbarians became the ultimate playstyle in classic Diablo 3, is now back after one year of Reaper of Souls patches. Barbarians, rejoice! The 6-piece set bonus adds even more enhanced damage if both 'Call of the Ancients' and 'Wrath of the Berserker' are active. This bonus has been lowered significantly from initially 500% to 100% with the current PTR build, but it seems to be appropriate considering it's an open-ended set so that you can make a lot of current and future items and builds work with it.

The defining items/sets of this build

The other set this build uses is Bastion of Will (Focus & Restraint), a ring pair that has been revised for patch 2.2 (see the above picture). The mechanics of 'Bastion of Will' has changed: You now have to use primary skills/resource generators & resource spenders to get the full damage bonus, which is ideal for our barbarian who uses Bash as primary and Seismic Slam as secondary, main skill. The damage bonus is added on top of the 6-piece bonus of the 'Immortal King' set, resulting in 200% increased damage total.

The next key item in this build are the new Mortick's Brace bracers which enable all runes of Wrath of the Berserker at once. This is an extremely mighty legendary affix on both the offensive and defensive/healing front. Combined with the revised 'Immortal King' and 'Bastion of Will' sets, we're now looking at a true barbarian powerhouse that only needs a fitting weapon, which in this build will be the Fury of the Vanished Peak legendary Mighty Weapon. The speciality of this two-hander is the reduction of the Fury cost of 'Seismic Slam' by 40–50% which allows us to use this powerful ability permanently. We have to use 'Bash' just for keeping up the full damage bonus of 'Bastion of Will'.


Two legendary gems (out of three max.) are recommended for this high instant-damage focused build: Bane of the Trapped because we'll use the Permafrost rune of 'Seismic Slam', and Pain Enhancer which grants us the bleeding effect and great attack speed increase at gem rank 25. As third gem you may want to pick a defensive one like Esoteric Alteration or the Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard from Season 2.


As mentioned above, a chilling 'Permafrost'-runed Seismic Slam will be our main, cost-reduced main attack including good crowd control. Bash will be used just every couple of seconds to keep up the full damage bonus of 'Bastion of Will', which is working quite well because we gain a lot of attack speed increase from both our 5-rune Wrath of the Berserker and the 'Pain Enhancer' gem. Depending on how crowded an area is, we'll also use Ground Stomp with the 'Wrenching Smash' rune to pull enemies closer before we apply our mighty strikes.

Call of the Ancients with the 'Ancient's Fury' rune serves as powerful Fury generator because we'll be spamming 'Seismic Slam', and War Cry with the 'Impunity' rune provides us with solid defense which we'll definitely need because we're always jumping right into the fray with our short-range slams. Wrath of the Berserker with all runes enabled through 'Mortick's Brace' is the "skill backbone" of our build in terms of offense, defense, and healing. It's almost pemanently available, and when activated it increases our sheet DPS (damage per second) by factor 1.5, triples our toughness (after 'War Cry/Impunity') and increases our healing by factor 5-7 (depending on what your base healing is).

The skills used for this build

Of the passive skills we pick all the best defensive ones: Superstition (reduces all non-Physical damage), Nerves of Steel (increases Armor) and Tough as Nails (increases Armor (and Thorns damage)), plus Boon of Bul-Kathos (reduces the cooldowns of 'Wrath of the Berserker' (and 'Call of the Ancients'/'Earthquake')). The reason for this choice are (high-level) Greater Rifts. While you can literally murder Torment 6 difficulty with this build without incorporating any defense beyond that from 'Wrath of the Berserker', pace changes as soon as you enter Greater Rifts where monster damage increases dramatically. Without max defense and healing, you will not be able to stand in the middle of the all the dangerous ground effects to slam your foes (in time). Unlike the new patch 2.2 'Wrath of the Wastes' Whirlwind set, the revised 'Immortal King' doesn't come with a built-in defense bonus (except the option of perma-Ancients with the 'Together as One' rune), and common defense "add-ons" like 'Aughild's Authority' or 'Blackthorne's Battlegear' are not an option because we've used all our equipment slots. So, all our defense goes into the passives for this particular build if we want to farm Greater Rifts.


The following test run has been recorded on the patch 2.2 PTR (without the legendary drop rate buff) in a level 35 Greater Rift.

Note how the barbarian can fairly safely pave her way through the monster packs even though she stands right in the middle of the action. Also important is the fact that 'Seismic Slam' does decent damage against the final Rift Bosses, which is not the case with the popular 'Furious Charge' barbarian who uses the 'Legacy of Raekor' set. The enormous fun playing a really strong "hammer" barbarian comes as an extra bonus!

- Nobbie

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April 9, 2015

Removed until further notice: Mortick's Brace

Mortick's Brace (see the above picture) was removed from the game with the launch of the Diablo 3 patch 2.2 because it has been deemed too powerful (also see my blog about this topic here). The bracers were an important item in the Seismic Slam build described in this blog, especially their defensive portion. Until this gets fixed, I recommend to use the Ancient Parthan Defenders as replacement.

Dienstag, 10. März 2015

Diablo 3: Delsere's Magnum Opus Wizard - Infinite/0AP Frost Edition

The following guide and video have been created on March 9, 2015 on the Diablo 3 Patch 2.2 PTR, build 30215. Note that anything shown here may be subject to change until the final release candidate build goes live.


Delsere's Magnum Opus is the name of a wizard set that will be introduced with the Diablo 3 patch 2.2. Its bonuses support the Slow Time spell and various attacks which will be amplified through the use of 'Slow Time', for example Magic Missile.

The defining items/sets of this build

The following test build uses a tri-missile Glacial Spike (runed 'Magic Missile') as main attack, made possible through the use of a Mirrorball source. 'Glacial Spike' is a cost-free "Zero Arcane Power" (0AP) signature spell, which means that it always gets 100% benefit from the damage bonus provided by Bastion of Will, a ring set that will be updated for patch 2.2. In addition to that, we'll use items of the revised Tal Rasha's Elements whose auto-cast Meteor bonus (Frost in this case) is now available for just two equipped set pieces. See the above picture for all item stats and bonuses. The result is a very tanky build that can dish out great damage. Its crowd control ability is superb, which will make this wizard also a welcome party member.

Of special note with respect to the 'Delsere's Magnum Opus' set is the Gesture of Orpheus wand that reduces the cooldown of 'Slow Time' by up to 70%. In combination with Cooldown Reduction (CDR) through equipment (35% on this test wizard), we're able to almost chain-cast 'Slow Time' whenever and whereever we want. 'Slow Time' therefore deserves a place next to 'Glacial Spike' on the right mouse button. Note that the damage bonuses provided by 'Delsere's Magnum Opus' do not stack if you cast multiple 'Slow Time' "bubbles" on top of each other.


Two legendary gems (out of three max.) are recommended for this heavy crowd control focused build: Bane of the Trapped (obviously) and Simplicity's Strength which increases the damage of our tri-missile 'Glacial Spike' even more. As third gem you may want to pick a defensive one like Esoteric Alteration from Season 2.


As mentioned above, a tri-missile Glacial Spike (runed 'Magic Missile') is our main, cost-free main attack. The next important offensive spell is Duplicates (runed 'Mirror Image') which summons 4 illusionary duplicates of ourself that taunt nearby enemies, and cast several spells we have on our action bar. Spells cast by our 'Mirror Images' will deal just 10% of the damage of our own spells, however, because Exhaustion (runed 'Slow Time') and Absolute Zero (runed 'Black Hole') are among them, we get a huge defensive/crowd control bonus and damage amplification. 'Exhaustion' is a new rune in patch 2.2 which replaces 'Time and Space': Enemies caught inside 'Slow Time' now deal 25% less damage.

Prismatic Armor (runed 'Energy Armor') and Wormhole (runed 'Teleport') round off our build on the defensive and mobile side.

The skills used for this build

Of the passive skills we pick some that support our tanky Frost build: Unstable Anomaly (one "free Death"), Blur (reduces Damage Taken), Illusionist (Defensive Cooldowns reset), and Evocation (Cooldown reduction). Of special note with respect to our wizard is 'Illusionist' which resets the cooldowns on 'Mirror Image', 'Slow Time' and 'Teleport' when we take more than 15% of our maximum Life in damage within 1 second, which happens quite often.


The following test run has been recorded on the patch 2.2 PTR (without the legendary drop rate buff) in a standard Rift with the max. difficulty of Torment 6.

Note how the wizard can safely pave her way through the monster packs with very little effort. The visuals of the new set totally live up to the name "Magnus Opus" because she - and her Mirror Images - can basically chain-cast the 'Slow Time' spell with its half-transparent, glowing bubbles!

- Nobbie

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March 10, 2015
Build 30252 on the Patch 2.2 PTR brought updates to the bonuses of the Delsere's Magnum Opus wizard set as well as the Bastion of Will ring set (Focus & Restraint) which you can see in the following picture:

The new set bonuses as of build 30252

Although the mechanics of 'Bastion of Will' changed - you now have to use primary skills/resource generators & resource spenders to get the full damage bonus (which has also been nerfed) - the damage bonuses of 'Delsere's Magnum Opus' have been increased so significantly that the here described build actually got buffed overall. Just make sure that you keep 'Black Hole' on cooldown while you're firing your 'Glacial Spikes'.