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Forum Watch #90: Keywardens and Hellfire Ring Farming

Posted 21 Oct 2012 by

Lots of forum conversation lately about the DiabloWikiInfernal Machine, everyone’s favorite new v1.05 challenge. The first step is farming the keywardens, which is hard, or not, mostly depending on your gear, play style, and support team. (It’s dangerous to go alone.) Some useful discussion in this thread, which I’ve condensed and combined with personal experience for some bullet points:

  • Act One: The DiabloWikiKey of Destruction from DiabloWikiOdeg the Keywarden in the Fields of Misery. Few complaints about this guy; most people think he’s well-balanced and a nice challenge. Noticeable difficulty and difference in appearance from other bosses at that stage, but not too hard.
  • Act Two: The Key of Hate from Sokahr the Keywarden in the Dahlgur Oasis. Mixed feedback on this guy. Aside from him taking forever to find in the enormous Dahlgur Oasis, ranged characters think he’s a breeze but melee fighters are less thrilled by his talents. His AoE attack is punishing, and apparently bugged in that it continues even when he’s stunned or otherwise CC’ed.
  • Act Three: The DiabloWikiKey of Terror from DiabloWikiXah’Rith the Keywarden in the Stonefort. This is the biggest source of complaints, as we saw in a blue post a couple of days ago. Unlike the first two, this guy is not hard to find. In fact he’s very hard to *not* find, and has murdered a great number of new characters on Normal difficulty, especially Hardcore melee fighters who are still fragile in their low level gear and want nothing to do with him, but can’t avoid him in the area. Many suggestions to move him to a different dungeon, one that’s optional to explore, or where there would at least be room to dodge him.

    Xah’s biggest danger comes from his AoE attack, as he can drop bodies on anything nearby, plus inflicting a big slowing debuff. Characters lacking a snare-breaking escape skill tend to get stuck and ground up, helplessly.

  • Act Four: The Blacksmithing Plan from DiabloWikiNekarat the Keywarden on the Silver Spire Level 1. Some players feel he’s OP, but since you only need to get the plans once ever, that’s less of an issue than the other keywardens, who you need to farm repeatedly. The issue of building up the mandatory 5 NV stacks in Act Four is less of a problem than previously, since Blizzard seems to have pumped up the number of random boss packs in Act Four. Players report finding them much more commonly, and sometimes even 2 packs in those little dungeon areas. It doesn’t sound like Act Four has exactly become prime farming territory, but at least the “yet another cinematic-enhanced useless Purple boss” issue might be eased a bit.

  • Monster Power and Farming

    The other main consideration is the DiabloWikiMonster Power setting. That’s complicated slightly by the fact that you MUST have 5 stacks of DiabloWikiNephalem Valor to have any chance of getting a key (or the demonic organs from the next stage bosses). (And remember that Magic Find is irrelevant for key drop.) So it’s not just, “can I spend an hour Zerging down the keywarden on MP10 for the guaranteed drop?” Not when you have to build up your 5 stacks of NV first, in that same game since you can’t change MP mid-game. And if you’ve got less than godly equipment, surviving on MP10 is out of the question.

    People have argued about the math and the odds in a number of threads, and opinions vary. While MP10 is out of the question for most, given how steeply the monster hit points and damage scales up past about MP5, groups of well-equipped characters are routinely taking down the keywardens and then the Uber bosses on MP4-6. Your odds of a key dropping are 50% on MP5, which is pretty good.

    If you’re doing it alone… it’s going to take a lot longer. It seems like MP2 or higher is really what you want to aim for; the monster difficulty doesn’t increase that much from MP1 to MP2 or 3, while the odds of finding a key go up from 10% to 20% or 30%. If you can double or triple your odds of finding a key (by going from MP1 to MP2 or MP3) while only increasing the difficulty by say, 50% (in relative terms), that’s a good trade off.

    If you’re really low on gear, or playing HC and unable to die for your treasure, then yes, you can do it on MP0… but man it’s going to take a while. Finding the keys might not be impossible; say you get lucky with your 5% drop chance and it only takes you 10 runs per keywarden, at 20 minutes per run. That’s 30 x 20 = 600 minutes, or 10 hours of play time, but that’s only for 1 of each key. You need 3 of each! So you’re already up to 30 hours, and that’s only step one.

    The hard part is killing the uber bosses, since you’re using up 3 keys each time you open one of the red portals, and if you do the ubers (don’t forget the 5 NV stacks) and you don’t get the demonic organ, you’re back to step one and looking at dozens more keywarden runs. Thus it’s damn near imperative that you do the Ubers on the highest MP you can manage, which is helped by the red portal staying open. You can Zerg them, and really… even if takes more than 30m and your NV stacks wear off, you can just go out into Act One and farm up 5 more stacks, before returning to the whittle-fest project on the Ubers.

    Of course that’s totally out of the question for Hardcore players. Xanth and his brethren might just be happy that the Hellfire Rings aren’t actually very good for anything other than experience gain, since they’re so dangerous and time-consuming to farm if death is not allowed that it would just be a cruel temptation for HC players if the rings actually had awesome stats.


    Hellfire Rings Great Success

    Players are taking the challenge and DiabloWikiHellfire Rings are being obtained, mostly by people like windstriker who are smart enough to work in groups. Quite a few samples have been posted to the Hellfire Ring show off thread. Congrats and thanks to Katniss, gakky, Martialsage, Kestegs, and Windstriker, so far, some of whom have crafted several of them thus far. If you ask really nicely, maybe one of them will give you an extra one!