RoS Gear Basics — Addendum on Enchanting

My last post discussed the basics of picking gear in the Loot 2.0 system. It emphasized that a max level character can be geared up rapidly with good rares if you know what to look for and make use of the enchanting system. I want to add a few small points that can make a big difference in how effectively you can use enchanter, especially with limited resources.

A rare item has up to 4 primary affixes and 2 secondary, as discussed before. Each slot has a pool of primary affixes from which it can draw its 4. This is a helpful resource I linked before to see what they are. When you enchant a primary stat, the item can draw the new stat from the usual primary pool (you can click the “?” icon at the enchanter to see all the possibilities in advance). However, the full array of possible affixes is not always available, because certain affixes are mutually exclusive.

In particular, an item can’t have two +skill bonuses or two +element bonuses. So when enchanting a particular stat, if one of the other stats being left on the item is a +skill or +element affix, all of those will be removed from the enchanting pool. This can be used to your advantage when enchanting. Conversely, if an item does not have a +skill or +element affix (except possibly for the one being enchanted), and those are available in the slot, there will be a very long list of possible reforges. This works against you, even if it’s not the +skill or +element that you’re going for. In that situation you might reconsider enchanting the item unless you are willing to spend a large amount of gold and materials rolling the stat you want out of a large pool.

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Reaper of Souls Gear Basics

Edit: added a little bit more to this, in a separate post here

The “Loot 2.0” system that is the centerpiece of Diablo 3 2.0 makes acquiring gear both more fun and more interesting. The addition of a few new stats, and the enchanting system in particular, means that a little bit of understanding of the system goes a long way in helping you gear up quite quickly once you hit max level. I’ll first give an overview of important stats, and then some practical tips on how to go about putting it all together. In particular, the “Damage” and “Toughness” scores, while they have their uses in making evaluations, can limit your gear progress if you rely on them too much without understanding the underlying stats.

Offensive Stats

Your character sheet’s “damage” score takes into account your weapon damage, primary stat (“Main”), crit chance (“CC”), crit damage (“CD”), and attack speed (“IAS”) bonuses. Since all damaging skills also scale with those stats (some exceptions for IAS, see below) it is a good starting proxy for how much damage you can output. However, there are some important reasons not to simply rely on the Damage score when looking for upgrades. Here are the most prominent ones:

  1. The “[Element] skills deal X% more damage” affix. This works exactly as advertised, and if your build does most of its damage with skills of a particular element, adds a lot of damage that’s not reflected on your character sheet. This gives a strong incentive in Reaper of Souls to try to choose builds that focus on one elemental damage type. If you do all your damage with one element, and you mouseover a pair of bracers with +15% to that element, then even if they show a -5% Damage loss in the comparison, you should think of them as a 10% damage upgrade.
  2. The “Increase [Skill] damage by X%” affix. Similarly, you can probably imagine how to use this. It’s sometimes hard to leverage if your damage is spread between a few different skills, but value it highly if you use a certain skill for most of your damage.
  3. IAS is factored directly into your damage score. But depending on your class and build, IAS may be more or less useful to you. If you are primarily resource-capped (if combat often consists of dumping a whole energy bar into an expensive spender such a Frozen Orb), IAS actually does very little for you, as it doesn’t change the number of casts you get before you run out. Similarly if you use a lot of cooldown-based skills. Conversely, if you generally spam a resource generator (Monks, often), IAS could be better than it appears. Don’t rely on the Damage score when evaluating IAS; think about whether attacking faster is useful in your build.
  4. A more subtle version of the IAS issue is weapon speed. A 1.2 speed weapon and a 1.5 speed weapon might do the same DPS, but one hits much harder per swing and the other attacks faster. The same logic from the IAS discussion applies; one or the other may be much better for you even if they have the same Damage score.
  5. Some stats are not reflected at all in Damage; notably, cooldown reduction and resource cost reduction. Many of the types of builds that don’t like IAS like these stats, because they let you use your attacks more often in practice. Don’t worry about the fact that favoring these stats and disfavoring IAS makes your Damage score look lower.
  6. The CC/CD engine. While these are reflected correctly in Damage, that can be deceptive at low gear levels. The value of each of these stats depends on the other one, so when both are low (when you’re just starting out), CC and CD affixes might show up as weak in your Damage score. Trust that once you accumulate enough of both of them, the synergy is very strong, and a key part of doing high damage. Even if CC/CD items look weak at first, consider saving them because the effects will snowball as you get more.

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Your Deeds of Valor Will be Remembered

“That bauble around your neck—was it bought with gold or iron?”

Hardcore mode. Sounds intimidating. It’s for “hardcore players,” which as any erstwhile WoW forum reader knows, is the opposite of “casual players.” Which is what, statistically speaking, you probably are. This post is about why, name notwithstanding, Hardcore mode is for you. Paradoxically, it can be not only the most intense way to play, but also the most casual way to play. My goal in writing this is for you (whoever you are) to try it. Nothing more. Next time you’re logging in to D3 and don’t have a pressing goal in mind, or aren’t sure what you want to do, just hit that red button on the character creation screen and see what happens. Don’t have to do it for long, or have any big plan, just try it for an evening. There’s really only one risk: a lot of people never go back.

Do you want your possessions identified?

Diablo was in one sense the first of its kind, but it was really a update of a long-standing game genre, the “roguelike” (most famously Nethack). Diablo added graphics to the then-existing hack-and-slash dungeon crawling game concept. But a brief look back at Nethack, a well-known classic, is informative. Dungeon sizes, spell and monster lists, and item stat combinations were far more vast than we’re used to in the era after text-based games (aside: not having graphics used to leave quite a lot of resources free for other things). People would play for years and stumble across new spell/item/monster interactions, because it was virtually impossible to learn them all on your own. Beating the whole game was hard, and very few people did. The interesting fact for today though, is something that was so obvious there wasn’t even a name for it at the time: it was Hardcore. The whole value of the game was learning from your deaths. The first time I tried playing, my character died of hunger before I made it off the first level (so I don’t leave you in suspense, my next character died of food poisoning). Once I mastered the nuances of eating properly, and other skills, I’d get further with each character. Not because of any in-game property that carried over, but because I learned more about what to do and what not to do.

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Diablo III Banner Customization Guide

There isn’t much personalization in Diablo III, but your character can display customizable banner on the menu screen and in-game. Since the banner interface is unwieldy when it comes to matching up locked designs with achievements (it tells you the name of the achievement needed to unlock any design, but doesn’t link you to it or give any other information), this guide covers the information behind all banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents. It presents each row of banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents as they appear in-game, with a description of all the achievements required.

There are patterns among the types of achievements and rewards: kills on certain difficulties reward specific augmentations, as explained below. Worth noting is that among Co-op kills, only Inferno ones have banner rewards, and among Hardcore boss achievements, only Normal kills have rewards.

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The Auction House is Currently Available

Another collaborative essay by Perculia and Hamlet (see About for more info), this time not about WoW.

Diablo has always had a formula: elevating the mundane task of clicking and looting into something inexplicably enthralling. Everyone who’s played any Diablo game understands it, other games have tried to replicate it, but nobody ever seems to know exactly what the secret ingredient is. Diablo 3 looked as though it was going to remain safely in this well-charted territory. But over the hours we’ve spent playing in the first four weeks since the game’s release, one element we didn’t foresee has, for better or for worse, altered the formula on quite a fundamental level. We want to discuss the new system in Diablo 3 that, since it was released into the wild, has bent the entire game around its existence: the Auction House.

Blizzard has remarked that the game’s testing was done in an AH-free environment. While simulating the AH for internal testing would have been obviously difficult, it seems the ramifications of the AH have taken everyone by surprise. Having had time to see it in action, we discuss how the AH has affected players across the spectrum, from low-level first-time players which make up a large part of the user base to high-level Inferno players. We also explain why we now believe the AH’s omnipresence was inevitable once it was introduced.

As of this writing, on the planned eve of the arrival of the real money AH, the effect that will have on the landscape remains speculative. There’s no doubt it will be interesting, and will provide fodder for more analysis once everyone has digested its effects. But we wanted to write this piece before that took place, because the effect of the AH on the nature of the game, even without the more complex real money factor, is quite dramatic in its own right.

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Mitigation and Survivability in Diablo III

In my last post, I mentioned that I might go more in-depth on some Diablo III theorycraft topics. Here’s the first. I’ll review the math surrounding mitigation in Diablo III and discuss what I think is the most helpful way of keeping track of it for everyday purposes. I also made a simple tool for doing any of the computations discussed here for any stat values; it’s linked below but I’ll also put it here so it’s easy to find: D3-mitigation.

The Mitigation Formula

Armor in D3 reduces all incoming damage by a constant factor M:


Where A is your armor stat, L is your attacker’s level, and C is a constant equal to 50 in this game.

Every hit is then further reduced by the appropriate resist (physical or one of the 5 magical schools). The mitigation from resist follows the same formula as mitigation from armor, except that C is equal to 5 instead of 50 (which, as we’ll get into later, roughly makes a point of resist 10 times as effective as a point of armor).

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Armor Dyes in Diablo III

This post has nothing to do with theorycrafting. It will instead cover Armor Dyes found in Diablo III, including what difficulty level they are first available in, item costs, vendors, and related achievements.
General Info
  • There are 20 dyes available, not counting two reusable dyes from the Collector’s Edition. Dyes are purely cosmetic items and will recolor a player’s armor.
  • Each level of difficulty unlocks several new dyes. Dyes available from easier tiers are still available for their cheap prices in later tiers.
  • Each in-game dye can be used only once. It can dye one of the following armor slots: helm, shoulders, chest, gloves, pants, boots. Belts, bracers, weapons, amulets, and rings cannot be dyed.
  • Dyes can be traded between party members, sold on the AH, stacked up to 20, and put in a stash. They are initially found on vendors (see section below).
  • There are no level requirements to using dyes: a dye only available in Inferno can be put into a stash and used on a fresh level 1 character.
  • The following list of dyes shows the earliest difficulty level the dyes can be found at. The dyes then have a chance at showing up in all later levels.
  • Some details on distinctive armor cannot be completely dyed. An example of this are chest panels on Demon Hunter-only shirts. Other dyed armor may only show a faint tint on an item’s metal detail.

Diablo 3 Gear Basics

Now that I understand D3 theorycraft a bit better, I’m going to try to boil down a few useful things that players might want to know to have a sense of how things work. This is a basic summary that should get most people going on picking sensible gear; anyone who wants more detailed info or formulas can ask me or look them up in various places.

Really short version

  • Use the weapon with the highest listed DPS (big number in the tooltip).
  • Value other items for offensive power simply by seeing how they affect the “damage” listing in your character sheet.
  • For survivability, stack Vitality as much as you can, but armor and resists are still valuable.*

*Edit 6/5: This point is out of date.  It’s still fine a low levels, but the situation at max level is a lot more complex.


1. Basic DPS Scaling

Diablo 3 tries to tie the damage of literally everything you do to one number. The goal was clearly to eliminate the complicated spreadsheeting of WoW in favor of a simple setup where any stat improvement would improve all of your skills exactly equally.

This number is the one labeled “Damage” on your character sheet. It shows the DPS you do with autoattacks (putting aside that you never autoattack in D3), taking into account weapon damage, speed, and crit chance. The logic goes like this–if a skill does a fixed percentage of weapon damage per hit, has the same attack speed as your autoattack, and the same crit chance and crit bonus as well, then its DPS will scale in parallel to this “Damage” value. If every skill in the game is designed this way, then you only need to look at one number to determine DPS upgrades, regardless if your skill setup.

So if you read no further, your takeaway is that simply equipping whatever maximizes that number will get you pretty far (also, when you mouseover any item, the tooltip will show whether your Damage will go up or down if you equip it). Below are some further details that should be helpful.

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