Assassin’s Journal (Diablo II Game Notes)

Tonight I went storming through the rest of act 5, which I had paused at arriving outside Nielethak’s Temple earlier in the day. On a tangential note: I found out that charm + scroll of identify + full moonstone does not always equal a decent rare like the recipe guide says it will. It manages to roll something, but not worth burning a whole moonstone over. Considering how many of them I’ve used so far (maybe 5), I’m thinking I’ll just save them for something else. Though this is a minor issue. The real point here is I’m finally really settling in to leveling my Assassin; a class I’ve traditionally favored. I had a build similar to this one back over 15 years ago when I would go do LAN parties with our intrepid band of heroes (Will, Scooter, Schwacky and I). We all got through normal mode together one of those nights on one multiplayer game. Took it right to Baal and beat him down, a few casualties as well, naturally. I remember the drop was crap. But that original build, an Assassin named Venom, lives on in this new manifestation:

Slayer Venom
Class: Assassin
Level: 52 (Nightmare Act 1)
(All stat totals modified by equipment)
Strength: 171
Dexterity: 163
Vitality: 79
Energy: 47

Life: 441
Defense: 978
Attack Rating: 1601

Left click
Phoenix Strike
Level 26
Increases Attack Rating 190%
First Charge: Meteor 624 – 708 fire damage (757 – 801 per second for 5 seconds, area of effect, fire damage)
Second Charge: Chain Lightning 1 – 1333 lightning damage
Third Charge: Chaos Ice Bolt 286 – 314 cold damage, hit freezes target
Attack Rating: 3203
Melee: 738 – 1952 enhanced by poison damage

Right Click
Dragon Claw
Level 14
Finishing Move (releases charges)
Increases Damage 124%
Increases Attack Rating 390%
Attack Rating: 4889
Melee: 836 – 2162 enhanced by poison damage

Special Ability (Aura)
Burst Of Speed
Level 26
Increases Attack Speed 55%
Duration: 420 Seconds

Special Attack (Area Of Effect)
Level 8
Increases Damage 6%
Increases Attack Rating 35%
Attack Rating: 1896
Melee (3 second duration): 743 – 1963 enhanced by poison damage

As you can see, most of her skill points have gone into increasing her movement speed (run/walk) and attack speed, and ensuring I have a powerful spell which can freeze trash mobs. I don’t waste time on them, if possible. I hit hard and fast. She’s holding a triple-socketed scissors quahb in each hand, each with the Chaos runeword. That runeword has a chance to procure a level 9 Charged Bolt (11% chance on striking) or level 11 Frozen Orb (9% chance on striking) spell, therefore, damage was never her problem. I focused on making her zippy, and capable of dispensing carnage quickly, and since charge 3 is the only way I roll, I prefer to shatter lots and lots of frozen enemies. Did I mention she’s wearing a Raven Frost ring? Just in case it wasn’t clear – shattering frozen trash mobs is my favorite. They can’t be resurrected, corpse-exploded, or otherwise used by the enemy for some ill-gotten gain. Shattered frozen trash mobs dissolve into a puddle of water and are cleanly, efficiently, disposed of. And now your going: well if he loves cold damage so much, why the poison damage enhancement on base damage? It’s my charms, which do contribute to the elemental damage modifier of my total melee damage (and Dragon Claw), but since there tends to be more poison damage than cold, the largest modifier wins out. Poison damage totals always run high because they do damage over time, usually 5-6 seconds. This is the core of the mechanics behind the crazy numbers I put up there for modified melee damage. Like I said earlier, I can do lots of damage. Not a problem. But can I do it quickly as well? Why yes, we can indeed. Plus headed into nightmare mode I felt it appropriate to give her the Chains Of Honor runeword armor (an exceptional gothic plate), which adds 2 to all skills (including out of class whirlwind). It’s nice having whirlwind in case things get dense. And at level 8, the damage modifier is a bonus, not a reduction.

So things are rolling along well. I whirlwinded all of the summoned trash right before you get into Baal’s chamber. I nearly died to the final wave of them because of that knock back thing they do. But I’m full rejuvenation potioned up. Baal himself only had one or two spells which caused me any harm. Then I just potioned and let the meteor fire damage stack up on him. He was shortly thereafter, dead.

Now to go back through and do it all again, sure. And act 1 is my favorite anyway. I’ll be having fun regardless. I hope you have played this lovely game, and have similar nostalgic thoughts on it. But I doubt you’d ever go back to it, considering how far graphics have come. But I still enjoy it regardless. It’s the gameplay that pleases me most of all. Keeps me coming back for more.

**UPDATE 11/3/14 @ 6:45 pm**

I have myself down to the “kill Andariel” quest in act 1. I’m sad to see it go. Act 1 is easily my favorite, then 5, followed by 4, 2 and lastly 3. Act 3 is misery. Those Flayers are the worst trash mobs in the game. They combine small size, retreating, and speed all in one box. They are truly horrible. And the stack of Flayers with the fire-breather (shaman) on top will melt hit points off in seconds. Now that my resistances are back in the shitter, I am not looking forward to my next run-in with them.

I have a feeling my rampage through this game will be coming to an end in act 2. Skeleton archers have always given me fits. There will also be skeleton mages, who’s damage I can’t block or absorb with reduced resistances. Even though my Chains Of Honor embossed plate grants 65% to all resistances, I’m still looking like this:

Fire: 42
Cold: 50
Lightning: 75 (absorb, capped)
Poison: 65

So you see now why I’m dreading those act 3 Flayer shamans? I’m going to have problems in act 2 though, as nearly all skeleton archers have fire damage on their arrows. And the most common elemental skeleton mage is fire. Some named trash have an extra invigorating corpse explosion on death, which makes quite a mess (and unpleasant sound), but is also (sadly) fire damage. A named crush beast decided to lower my health by a full 75% with one nasty corpse explosion. And it didn’t help that I had been cursed with amplify damage by another named trash mob. Outer cloister, gotta love it.

Rerolled my resistance bonus from my two large, two small rare charms and now look like this:

Fire: 64
Cold: 57
Lightning: 72
Poison: 65

I’d rather be balanced than have one glaringly weak point. All that thinking about those damned undead archers forced me into action.