Melee Diviner in Xmax
Dram surveyed the situation before him - masses of undead scattered all throughout the ruins. Well, that was where he needed to go, and a few more skeletons were not going to deter him from his goal to finally find the source of the monster sourge that has spread across the land. He selected his target - a Frost Lord that was trying to keep his troops in hand - and slipped into the dreamland, to approach his target without detection.
As he passed into the mass of bones and rotting flesh, a tic from his magical Trance - an aura of Wrath - spread burning electrical pulses among them. They were momentarily confused, but when they spotted the Liche King and Nightmare coming towards them, they immediately started to attack the fighter-mages` pets. As the Frost Lord was about to unleash a spell upon them, Dram appeared from the dreamland and landed a mighty Strike, felling not only the Lord, but 6 other minons that were near to it. Before any of the archers could react to his sudden appearance, Dram sent a Wave of magic at them that Immolated them in electricity, as well as slowing them down so that he could easily pick them off before they could get a shot at him.
Ahead of him, a Hopolite captain mustered his gang, and started to rush Dram. Behind him, Dram saw that his pets were mopping up nicely, but were surrounded and couldn't help him with the new threat approaching. "Lets thin the herd a little", Dram said as he cast a Sleep spell at the oncoming crowd, and incapictated 7 of the attackers. 5 still were coming in, but both the Hopolite and his fire-enchanted Assassin lieutenant were caught in the spell, so Dram easily dispatched the remaining trash skeletons and regrouped with his troops before any other enemies caught wind of a battle and joined the fray.
The captain and his lieutenant awoke from their slumber, only to catch a glimpse of steel as it cut them in half. "Well, it looks like that was it", Dram said as he approached the gate to the Pythian caves. "Now, lets find out what can turn a cyclops into stone, shall we?" Silence was the only answer he got, and Dram wondered why he kept muttering things aloud when his pets only understood the most basic commands like go or attack.
Introduction - The close-combat version of the Diviner is an interesting combination to work with. With a lot of synergy between Dream and Spirit with Vitality damage, resistance reduction and crowd control, this is indeed a powerful class.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
Good - Synergy between masteries; early engame artifact; tons of ADCtH; very fast bosskilling capability; gets by without godly-affixed MI gear... actually quite easy to farm for!
Bad - relies on ADCtH to stay alive; needs investment in all 3 attributes; main damage source doesn`t drop until Act 4; uses several skills (uses a lot of hotkeying and reticule use).
Ugly - Low (base) strength and HP on a melee toon... very squishy
Starting the xmax challenge is an exercise in patience for a melee toon. Lucky for us, we have Distortion Wave to start the game, and I always put 5 points into it by level 3, for 2 reasons: it will wipe out most satyrs with one wave, and I prefer to use an ...of Destruction weapon (iron knife or axe), and coupled with 1 point in Chaotic Resonance, makes a nice wave damage until Megara. You will want Psionic Immolation for 3xPoly, but not really necessary if you can sepearte them and know when to hit and when to run. I always proceed straight up the Dream mastery to max it ASAP, as I like to auramance with Trance of Wrath. This should all come together around Delphi, when you can Mystic your points out of DW, and max ToW with all of your points. You can dip into Spirit early, but the Seer is safer and faster-killing if you just beeline to max ToW.
Act 2 will mostly be building Spirit mastery and grabbing some useful skills. I like putting 2 into the mastery every level, and 1 for a needed skill for this part of the build.
Going thru Act 3, I respeced out of ToW for ToC. You should have Necrosis maxxed by now (if you have a dire / terror weapon), or you can be a Distortion Wave-pwnr which is what I usually do. With Chaotic Resonance and Ravages of Time, straight physical damage is still very good, for the few that do get into melee range.
Get a Sabertooth, squeak by Tyhpon somehow, and proceed to max out your core skills in Act 4. In order: Necrosis, RoT, Lucid Dream (+synergies), Psionic Touch, Liche King.
Weapon affixes - Only the fastest of very fast weapons only! Enfeebling. etc is always preferred early on. If you get a vitality affix, you will need a ... of necromancy on swap-out before ToW. As a DW-toon, usually don`t need to damage with your weapon except for bossfights, so go for `defensive` affixes on your weapon, like the aforementioned enfeebling (slower attack), or just straight speed if you got the debuffs from your sockets.
Gear affixes - go for resists, mostly. Movespeed on boots and attack speed on bracers (if they`re not SBC), as any melee toon. IMO, in Normal, the attribute % bonuses are not the be-all-end-all. By all means, if you got a 20-20-20 Statley, use it! I do usually worry about armour values, but not until they double... so if I have a Vet`s torso with 40 armour, and find myself headed for Wusao, it`s time to upgrade, even if it means losing that great rare prefix.
Sockets - Wineskins/Hecate (early), Demon Blood and Vile Ichor in jewellery; Fleece or Mechanical Parts in torso; Turtle Shell (pierce resist from completing in the shield) then Rigid Carapace then Shade of Hector in shield; Plumage, Ajax, Horus, etc... where you can fit or when needed. For your weapon, just synergize (ie Bat fang in Sanguine, or Prometheus in a fire-affixed, etc...) until you get the Fury`s Heartblood. Damage over time is viable, since you already have ToW and/or DW with EBD DoT, adding another (LL, bleed, poison) can give you that 1-hit kill effect.
Artifact - Soul Shiver. Multiples if you like as the attack speed bonus one is sub-standard as you get into legendary, extra damage (demon/undead) is better, situationally. Not sure what else would be best if you had ADCtH from other sources...
Note on skill points: I`m always re-speccing out of ToW to DW-PI for bossfights, while I`m auramancing in early Normal. Heh... now that I think about it, almost all of my budget is either Mystic or Enchanter for Normal 8)
Note on attribute distribution: I went 1/1/1 for my toon, but that is an average for the entire playthrough. Early on there is not typically much want for intelligence, so Put points in Str and Dex to wear melee gear, but don`t be afraid to boost Int if you get a great affix on a piece of cloth early on!
Boss Strategies (Normal): this is what I have done so far...
Poly - PI or seperate. If I am facesmashing them, I disengage every 10 seconds or so and run until he yells. Otherwise, it`s just a run around like a madman, casting DW-PI when it recharges.
Gorgons - Lure the Euryales out first or it`ll be a half-hour battle at least. I go petless.
Alastor - cheese from the doorway if you don`t have good cold resist and some lesser damage from undead. Or run in cicrles and DW them... bring lots of both kinds of potions!
Minolord - 1 on 1, should be no problem with ToW.
Megaleosis - I like to have a demon`s blood socketed... with the vitality resitance completion. Can be a dangerous battle if you cannot kill the statues fast enough.
Scarabeus - Pristine Plumage in a poison-resist piece for swap-out.
Aktaios - some fire resist, stay out of areas where the lighbeams hit. Easiest battle in the game, IMO.
Chimera - fire and lightning resist. Expect any pets caught in the breaths to die, so Outsider must be used carefully.
Barmanu - stun resist, and pull one by one... or circle and PI... both work good. Don`t get cute and try to side-step the avalanches.... run far away and return to your last footsteps in the snow to re-engage.
Yeti - ultra-dangerous if they freeze-lock you with perfectly timed breaths. Just pull them 1 at a time for safety.
Yaoguai - 80% fire resist. Pets RIP to his fire dance, so don`t count on them.
Wusao and Olympus - Sleep (max) for deathlancers, and the olympus run. Lesser damage from undead for the packs of Abyssal liches, the biggest threat to us here.
Ormenos - either 5 seconds with a good LK and Outsider combo, or a PI fight (running in circles).
Typhon - I have only PI-battled him sucessfully. I really need either a) help or b) practice with this one.
Grae Sisters - max. Vitality resist, PI battle.
Bloated One - I`m sooooo glad there`s only one of her... PI battle with your maxxed vitality resist setup is still a challenge if LK and Outsider don`t get it done.
Cerebus - 2 items with ... of the Glade socketed with Hydradon Hides = immunity from everything but his poison gas bomb attack, which he only uses when at range. If you don`t Phantom Strike, just waltz in, and dance around the PGB bottles (or clouds if they land), and just facesmash them.
Charon and Undead Typhon - lesser damage from undead. Necromancer`s robe, Crown of the Dead and Spririt Ward.
Hades - max vitality resist again and pull them 1 at a time... avoid the red blob of death as he comes at you, then move to Epic!
In Epic, we focus on getting skills maxxed to ultimate levels, about 40% on primary resists, max attack speed and keep swinging! ie... avoid stun/freeze/etc when necessary. I farmed Minolab for SBC (2 all skills) and Megaleosis for Battlemage robe (1 all skills), which just looks badass when weilding a sabertooth and a big shield. The last point is pretty easy... Divine amulet, Hallowed hat, Loratian Greaves, all popped from triple-orbs while I was looking for the SBC. This carried me to my death at Epic Ormenos, then 6 deaths vs. Typhon before I could get to the Secret Passage.
This is where I made the discovery that got me really excited about the class: Buccaneer`s Garb! I geared around these 3 items, and that has taken me to the Plains of Judgement in Legendary. , or in a word: Arrrrrrrrrrrrr! For a 3-piece set, the bonuses are almost perfect for my toon - 50/74/61/67/70 primary resists, 25% Total damage, 1000 HP, 400 OA, 350 DA, 80+ sleep/stun/skill disruption protection, with a little movespeed, dodge and CtaP sprinkled on top. The other main piece to get in the SP is Tarwater Shade, for a fire resist swapout. I only had one other swap-out piece - Umbral robe came in for the undead-slaying portions to replace the Necromancers set items I was using for lesser damage shenanigans.
The hardest spot to fill on the roster is without a doubt, the amulet. Prismatic, Sacred, Ritual, and Dreadful all compete for prefixes (more important), and with ... of Feasting/Devouring, Augury, health or OA suffixes.
Epic / Legendary bosses
Talos - Seperate them and have good fire, lightning and stun resist.
Manticore - Find a spot where you can see where he is, summon Outsider and send in the Nightmare to draw aggro. Flank them to avoid stray attacks and it could be a 10 second battle!
Dracoliche - 100% less damage from Undead and just hack at their ankles until they drop.
Hydra - The first run was ultra-bad, I got hit with triple-breath but managed to esc-quit before death . Second time around was not much more fun... no breathweapons, but luckily one went down before a second round of 3x poison-biting could occur. Two was OK, actually... with only 30% resist to poison. Obviously, I would have an epic Ismene`s helm with legendary Pristine Plumage on swapout for this battle when actually in the challenge.
In Legendary, trance swapping makes killing faster (and safer, with more ADCtH) when there aren`t tons of ranged enemies. I had played with ToC from Act 3 Mongolia to Legendary Minotaur Lord, when I had to Esc-quit against him, even 1-on-1, his Onslaught overpowered everything I had. I slapped 1 into ToW and tried it against him... to awesome effect! Without the yellow circles of doom, I was able to take him one at a time. and the second run thru him with maxxed ToW, was actually `safe`, getting enough health back (due to increased damage) and a timely potion to get in the 8 hits (2 Psi-touch procs, as long as they hit) it took to down them. I disbanded the pets for this fight, as I figure it is safer, accidentially aggro-ing another boss into the fray would just be too dangerous... and we want to save the outsider for the Telkine anyway. But, there is enough room to have 12 idle points in an unused trance for the ease of swapping on the go.
But, all that Epic-quality gear I used to get thru Legendary (while still earning 50k kills... which means going everywhere, doing everything... and more!) did have some drawbacks... and I have suffered 19 deaths so far to the Plains of Judgement. 9 were forgetting to swap gear, 3 "I don't care if I die... " deaths, 3 against Typhon, Barmanu (I tried side-stepping an avalance and got nailed by a bouncy one), Over-aggro'ed Yerren and got scattershotted while they pelted my pets (trying to run awaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy).
All those deaths mostly because I wasn't in "HC mode"... but 2 I cannot blame myself fully for, yes I had too many enemies on me (the point of a test-run, IMO), but these were harder to own up for - Deathlancers got me... I was surrounded, and stopped hitting for some reason... momentary lapse in ADCtH = death. Maybe Nightmare confused the target I was on (I shift-attack while melee-ing mobs), I cannot recall. The other death was vs. the Olympian Cyclopses. With pets to distract, and the ol' Distortion Wave-Sleep cheese, these guys aren't so much trouble... but I figure I got hit with a collateral yell (aimed at a pet), which stops my PT on LMB. Again, since I was easily handling the ones in melee range, I was comfortable being surrounded, but didn't see that I wasn't swinging anymore. No ADCtH = death Even if they can't yell or stomp... these guys still pack a punch. With only 4k HP, the bar goes down fast, fast fast!
AND, I haven't finished yet. But, the rest of Act 4 shouldn't be too bad, I'm immune vs. Cerebus and Typhon, really only have to avoid making a mistake vs. Machae archers. I definietly don't know how the Generals, (possible) Dactyl or Hades fights will go, though, with my setup. The Nightmistress and Warden of Souls are lesser worries for me, but still could go badly.
Since having a good run (finally) in the Hardcore challenge with this toon, I wanted to put the build out there, and improve on it Comments and critisisms welcome!
Although the entranceway was very well lit from the daylight, deeper into the cavern, it was quite dark and Dram stopped for a moment to wait for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He disbanded his pets, so that they did not draw any unwanted attention to him while he assessed the situation. There were a bunch of what he could only describe as half-woman, half-snake type of creatures in the clearing ahead; this must be the answer that Apollo`s Oracle was speaking of. 9 of them, all on-guard as if expecting an attack was immiment. Dram was not used to that - typically all of the monsters he had faced so far were relatively unorganazied and typically a chaotic mess of creatures, which made it easy for him to get within range to thow his deadly spells and thin the crowd so his bloodstained sword could reap the leftovers like ripe wheat.
A plan formed in his head, different than the one he was going to use. Instead of summoning up his `team`, and rushing headlong into the fray with spells and sword, he kicked a stone across the floor. The three cold-enchanted beastwomen heard this, and decided to come investigate. It seemed that these monsters could not see any better than he could, as they would fire arrows blindly into his general direction, and then advance. Shoot, advance, shoot, advance. One stopped near where Dram was hiding, while the other 2 contined searching for the sound of the noises Dram had been making by throwing rocks and luring these things to him. As the two that had passed him readied another volley of arrows, Dram leapt from the shadows and started attacking the backup. The monster took quite a beating, and he had almost vanquished the beast when it seemed like every wound Dram had made almost instantly healed. With both a sinking feeling in his gut, and the pin-pricks of cold arrows in his back, Dram figured the other 2 monsters had realized what was going on... and that they had healing spells. Healing spells powerful enough to make this a losing battle. He turned and charged the 2 Medusae that had done the healing, and started alternately attacking them. If he split up their healing spells, it could give him a chance to win this unwinnable scenario. The Psionic Touch fighting style that he employed provided massive damage, but only after a series of thrusts and feints had lured the enemy off-balance.
He concentrated these intense blows on one of the cold-triplets, and his plan seemed to be working. It went down (for good, he hoped...) and Dram had to retreat for a bit while he guzzled a healing potion as he had taken quite a pincusioning and needed some recovery. He hid momentarily, and the snakewomen started to retreat back to the center of the cave. Realizing this would be very bad (they would rally their compatriots and come looking for him), Dram had to act without thinking. He selected his target for the Phantom Strike skill and stepped into the shadows once again. Only by the time he had gotten to his target, they reached the clearing in the middle of the cavern, which was eerily well-lit compared to the rest of it. When he reappeared from the dreamland, to his horror there were 8 sets of eyes on him! He struck with his sword an awesome blow, finishing off the wounded monster and nearly decapitating the one he had first engaged when he Stole the Dreams from her subconsous mind. Two of the fire-enchanted beastwomen drew aim at him with their bows, as the third readied a spell, but Dram knew he had to finish this one before it was able to heal itself, or be healed.
He took 2 arrows in the chest as he landed the killing blow, but managed to avoid the oncoming magic missles that were cast at him from the eyes of the monster. Just as the 3 spear-using, poison-enchanted monsters reached Dram, he Distorted the very fabric of Reality, sending a massive shockwave out to damage, stun and petrify the new threat. Immediately after, he sent a smaller Wave of Distortion thru all 6 remaining bosses, and retreated again to allow another healing potion to reverse the effects of the fire arrows that he was hit with. He endured the momentary stab of pain as he broke off the arrows sticking from his body, while the magical elixir pushed the arrowhead out of his body and mended the wound almost instantly. As the remaining monsters searched for Dram, he realized that their wounds were not healing as the cold-enchanted ones had. This gave new hope to Dram, and he decided to go back to his original plan. Nightmare was sent in to initate contact with the enemies. As Dram rushed into the fray alongside the 30-foot tall Outsider, the Liche King Blighted the Souls of the 6 remaining Medusae and a couple of swings from thier swords ended the horrible reign of the monsters.
Or did it? <dumb dumb dumb>