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Strategy: The Best Diablo 3 Auction House Rare Items

Posted 27 December 2012by Flux

A friend pointed me to a useful post from the Battle.net forums. It’s billed as a farmer’s guide to the best types of rare items in Diablo 3, by which the author seems to mean “rares that might roll BiS.” I disagree with many of his ratings, but that’s mostly due to our different perspectives on item value. Here’s a quick, condensed quote from the post, to get us started:

Never pick these up:
* Two-handed Weapons, Wands (except ilvl 63 Desolator Wands), Helms, Boots, and Shields – “No one anywhere EVER in d3 who knows what they are doing uses a shield.”

Rarely Pick These Up
* One-handed Xbows, Sources and Fetishes, Belts/Mighty Belts

Pick These Up
* Rings, Amulets, Shoulders, One-handed Weapons, Bracers, Gloves, Pants, Chest Armor

Some recent profitable Rare sales.

Some recent profitable Rare sales.

Useful as a guideline, but I disagree on several of the specifics, since I’m coming from a very different place. The author of that B.net post is comping from the PoV of a very rich player who only wants Rares that might compete with the Best in Slot items. That’s fine if you’ve been playing 8 hours a day since launch, and/or can supplement your shopping with RMAH transfusions and care nothing for any items under ten million gold. If you’re like most players though, and are on something of a budget, and would like to find your own upgrades and/or make some item sales below the dream level, this guide isn’t very useful.

So here’s mine, aimed at a less-rich level of player, with rare item types sorted by how likely the items are to have any utility and sale value.

Good Sellers:
Pick up rare pants, boots, belts, helms, shoulders, rings, amulets. All these will sell if you get a decent roll with 3 or 4 good mods out of the 10 or 12 possible good mods.

Bad Sellers:
Do not pick up bracers, 1H or 2H weapons, any class-specific armor, or any of the off-hand items (including shields). These can be valuable, but the odds are much longer than with armors, since these items have more limited audiences, and/or have more affixes *required* before they have sale value.

Click through for a primer on item value vs. time played, specifics on why all of these are good or bad, and why I’m glad that lots of players pick up the junk anyway.


Item Sales and Value

The entire point of this debate is to maximize your time. Everyone’s got a different standard on that, so there’s no universal right/wrong answers. If you watch YouTube videos or read forum posts from some players, they apparently do nothing but sprint (and spin) through five areas of Act Three, pausing only to pick up jewelry, (some) legendaries, and to scratch their noses. And the really dedicated ones have had their noses surgically removed to avoid that temptation. Plus it helps to ignore the B.O. issues that arise with long-term, no-break gaming.

If that’s not you, and if you still shower and take your time playing, then you might as well pick up all or most of the Rares just in case. Anything can roll good at any time, and if you don’t mind the time spent IDing and selling to the merchant, then go for it and have fun. If you’re getting more into farming though, and you want to maximize your profits but you’re not yet at the “race through and only pick up orange/green/yellow jewelry, then consider the following.

Incidentally, you need to memorize the names of the item types to make this all possible while working quickly enough to make it worth the trouble. There’s a handy list of every every ilvl 61-63 item type in the wiki, and you can check items on the ground (without picking them up and opening your inventory) by holding down Control and hovering on their tags.


Rare Weapons are a Waste of Time

By now everyone’s in agreement that rare two-handed melee weapons might as well be dead fish for all the use they’ll do you. (Other than Skorns, which aren’t very valuable either and sell with awesome stats for under 1m.) Which is ironic, since we fans spent years pre-game debating what the devs might do to make 2H weapons useful after they were almost untouched in D2. The devs debated that too, but though they changed some things, they clearly failed to find a solution.

The main issue in D2 was that using a shield was overpowered, with 75% blocking. D3 wisely lowered the quality of shields, but added the huge offensive stats on off-hand items, and also greatly-improved dual wielding, so now most everyone (non-HC) takes one of those options. Since the improvements to 2H weapons are not sufficient.

Incidentally, the best player suggestions from our 2008-2011 debates on this issue: give 2Hers much higher potential affix values, more potential affixes (like 8 or 9 properties, vs. 6 on 1Hers), or inherent qualities like +blocking, better to/hit, bonus critical damage, etc. In D3 the two-handers do get bigger potential affixes, but that’s far from enough to offset their much slower attack speed and the loss of bonuses from a second or off-hand item.


That digression aside… Rare weapons are very unlikely to have value since they *must* roll with big DPS. That rules out 99.9% of the weapons you find right there, and unless you get a truly miraculous level of DPS, the item will also need to roll with critical damage and/or a socket, plus good mainstat, and ideally leech, Life on Hit, AS, etc. And it has to be the right kind of mainstat, though D3′s lack of class-specific weapon affixes (no faster casting rate, leech works with spells, etc) makes that a little easier to match up.

This is triply true for class-specific weapons, which I also recommend you leave on the ground if you’re rushing. Those items are only useful to one class which cuts the potential market by 4/5. Plus their mods are limited, you only want DEX on a bow or Fist, INT on a wand or ceremonial knife, etc. Off-hand items are just as bad, since they’re class-specific and *must* roll with 2 or 3 mods to have any value. Orbs and mojos have to get big damage + CC and Quivers need big Dex + CC, or they have no value. Shields too; they must roll with big CC plus other affixes, and there’s little demand for them outside of hardcore.

Happily other people don’t follow this advice, which is why I’ve been able to buy numerous excellent rare weapons and off-hand items for quite affordable prices. Carry on!


Armor to Avoid

Pickup radius works its +price magic.

Pickup radius works its +price magic.

Armor needs to roll really well to be valuable as well, but there’s a lot more variety in the possible mods. You can find a valuable armor with any main stat, with huge vit, with pickup radius and res all and sockets, etc. Get them all and it’s a great item, but just 2 or 3 big rolls to good affixes is quite likely to sell. Just check the comps as detailed in our How to Sell in the Auction House article, set a reasonable price, and cross your fingers. I’ve usually got 10 such sales going at all times, and move 4 or 5 of them every day, for a nice steady boost to my income. Plus it’s fun to play the GAH game, though I mightily resisted joining it for the first months of D3. (Which is why I’m not rich yet. That and I play all 5 classes, so I tend to keep all my best items for personal use and only sell spare stuff.)

Some types of armor sell better than others, of course.

I recommend against picking up all the class specific armor. Those items aren’t as likely to be useless as weapons, since they don’t *have* to spawn with one particular modifier to have value, but by their nature Monk/Wiz/WD helms, DH cloaks, and Barb belts are only of use to one class, which instantly cuts out 80% of the possible sales. Furthermore, their possible valuable affixes are limited by what that class wants; Dex and Int are useless on a Barb belt while they might be awesome on a regular chest armor. And the various bonus class mods (+resource, minor bonuses to 1 specific skill, etc) are not common, are not very impactful, and further limit the possible pool of buyers.

Class armors are almost a perfect example of the difference in my pragmatic philosophy vs. the B.net poster’s BiS dream approach.. These items do indeed have the potential to roll with fantastic mods and be comparable to BiS, but the odds of that are astronomical, and with their limited audience these items are, at best, 1/10th or 1/20th as likely to have any Auction House value than equivalent non-class specific armors. (I’m not really doing item fix prescriptions in this article, but clearly these items could/should be improved. Just giving them a tiny inherent bonus to one particular skill is inadequate.)


Rare Bracers

Bracers are the worst bet, in my experience. This is mostly due to Lacunis (thanks to their AS and MS that can’t spawn on other Bracers) taking up all the high end market. Strongarm Bracers are another excellent option, with guaranteed mainstat, CC, and +8-9% life, they’re always better than 99% of rare bracers.

Therefore, for a Rare Bracer to have value, it needs to roll *very* well. They can never be as good as Lacunis for offense, but they can do better in defense. I recently bought my Monk rare bracers with 4% CC, 161 Dex, 145 Vit, 55% All Res, and 54% Arcane Res, for just under 1m. Look at those stats; that’s a good-to-great roll on 5 different affixes, almost BiS quality mods, and the item was still worth less than one-million. (A belt or body armor or helm with such good luck on the ideal affixes would be worth multi-millions.) This is why Bracers aren’t worth it; even if you hit the lottery it’s not a big pay off.

(As with other items, I remain glad that most people do not follow this advice, since it lets the rest of us buy cheaply.)


Belts and Shoulders

These are kind of iffy, since there are very popular legendaries that take up most of the market.

Belts: Virtually every high end character is wearing The Witching Hour since they have Attack Speed and are the only way to get Critical Damage from a belt. Naturally, these cost a fortune, and last I saw this belt was the second most expensive legendary in the entire game, with even total junk on the random stats and a bad seed on the CD still going for 8m+. If you want anything decent on the random affixes, like a mainstat and All Res, you’re looking at 200m to 1b, or higher.

Rare belts can’t compete with that, and they can’t roll with any of the DiabloWikitrifecta mods that boost damage, and for a Barb the IK Belt is almost guaranteed better than any rare. That doesn’t seem to leave much, but none of those legendary belts have high vit + mainstat, and if you get those, plus double resistances for a Monk, and something else like pickup radius, you can turn a hell of a sale. (Like the belt in the screenshot above, though that’s literally the only belt I’ve ever sold for more than about 150k, which is why I’ve got belts classified as iffy.)


Shoulders are also debatable, since Vile Ward is simultaneously awesome and overrated. It’s awesome since it has four good affixes inherently: big mainstat + huge All Res + huge defense + huge life regen, that’s 4 very good properties. However, Vile Ward is not Lacuni or Witching Hour, since it doesn’t have any stats that can’t occur on rare shoulders.

The odds aren’t good; you’ll need a phenomenal roll on Rare shoulders, likely including Vit and pickup radius, to outdo a pretty-good Vile Ward, but it can be done. Really, the difference is for the buyer, since Vile Wards with any good random mods tend to be quite overpriced, compared to rare shoulders with slightly lower stats. For instance, the cheapest Vile Ward right now (Americas, Softcore) with at least 150 Dex, 50 Vit, and pickup radius is 55 million, and they quickly escalate into the hundreds of millions. Or, for the buyer on a budget, there are several rare shoulders with around 175 Dex, 70 vit, 55 All Res, and pick up radius for 8-12 million. Those have less resistance and no regen or armor compared to the Vile Ward, but are those stats worth ~45 million gold…?


Rare Helms

Helms are much like bracers and belts, with some legendaries offering stats that can’t be obtained on rares, and thus selling for vastly more. And I do mean *vastly* so this is another slot where a rare can be extremely viable, when you factor in the price. Which is why I advise picking them up, but not getting your hopes up. The odds are very low for your rare helm to roll well, since CC + a socket are all but mandatory, and you’ll also need several other good mods such as mainstat, vit, all res, +pickup, etc. Long odds, but when you get one it’ll sell quite reasily. I’ve moved half a dozen hats in the 500k-2m range myself, and as soon as I find and sell another 750 or so I can afford an equivalent Mempo!

Yes, the Mempo of Twilight (bug on that display; the item only has 1 random affix)… a helm that’s simultaneously the best headgear and one of the dumbest legendary names in the game. It’s got inherent properties for big mainstat (though this often bugs), Attack Speed, +armor, 70-80 All Res, and a socket, which is quite a combination. Rare helms can’t get Attack Speed so a Mempo is the best possible helm, but Critical Hit Chance is not part of the Mempo’s inherent mods, and with only one random affix, it doesn’t often roll CC. When it does, the prices adjust accordingly, and of course it can’t have pickup radius and/or vit as well.

Mempos are grotesquely overpriced.

Mempos are grotesquely overpriced.

The cheapest Mempos on the market with CC now are in the 70m range, and they are all bugged rolls without a mainstat, or just a small one, like 70 INT. If you want a Mempo with a proper mainstat, 170+ to dex or str (INT is cheaper), and a nice value to the CC, you’re looking at one of the most expensive items in the game. As you see in the pic…. yes, that’s 900,000,000 for the cheapest Mempo with 5% CC and over 120 Dex. Compare that to rare helm with 5% CC, a socket, all res, and big dex, for 5-20 million.

As I asked earlier, is Attack Speed and slightly higher res and armor worth 880 million gold? To some players, yes. To the rest of us? Not so much


Conclusion

In conclusion, I should have saved most of this for the upcoming big Best in Slot articles, which will cover every item type in the game, reviewing all the set and legendary options, comparing to rares from low to medium to high end, and include references to prices, possible affixes, ideal affixes, and more. I enjoy contemplating the topic, as the few of you who didn’t TLDR long ago can tell.

To restate the opening premise, there are multiple criteria you can use for what items you pick up. The post from the B.net forums is all about the rich man’s guide to the very few rares that can compare to the BiS legendaries. I find that interesting, but not very useful for actual play advice, since I’m way below BiS on almost all of my gear.

Despite the above words of attempted wisdom, I’m not perfectly rational. In addition to sometimes picking up ilvl 63 weapons, I pick up most Demon Hunter cloaks and almost all quivers, though I’m really trying to stop. I’ve never found a single quiver that can compare to the rares that are just 250k, and I’m using a quiver that cost me 3m and is the next best thing to a Dead Man’s Legacy at a fraction the price. The cloaks are an even worse time/effort investment since I’m wearing Inna’s Armor to pair with the pants for the partial set bonus, and there’s no rare cloak possible that I’d switch over to… and yet the thought of finding one with 3sockets, big dex, big vit, res all, and +discipline keeps me searching, though I’ve never even found one worth selling, much less wearing.

Which approach are you guys taking? What do you pick up? How logical and rational and time optimizing are you in your gear hunting? Does the thought, “This is a game and I should have fun playing it.” ever intrude, or are you more coldly calculating than that?


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