Forgive me, SPF, for I have sinned. After a year of away, I got lured back to the SPF by that shiny new 1.13 patch, which apparently isn't such an unlucky number.
Since I'm about as creative as a piece of navel lint, I decided to stick to something that I've done three times already. An avenger.
I present to thee Patriarch RainbowWarrior, lvl 87 min-damage avenger.
Here's the slightly untruthful character screen.
Since I used a 1.07 holy shield scepter on switch, I could spend all points in vengeance related skills:
- Vengeance 20 (24)
- Resist fire 18, cold 16, lightning 20
- Conviction 17 (20) --> -120% resists (20% extra for the non-immune resists every Hell monster has)
- Prerequisites: 1 each
I always wanted to make a min-damage avenger after reading Disco-neck Ted's pat thread. I happen to like avengers and especially the great amount of pre-planning joy that they provide. I had a lot of numbers to crunch for this one, but it wasn't as difficult as my previous Beast wielding pat. That's because some build choices really restricted my options. Which is good, because the longer I spend time in writing avenger calculator scripts, the longer it takes to actually start playing the damn game already.
The concept is rather elegant and simple. When a weapon's minimum damage exceeds it's max damage, the max damage adjusts to min damage + 1. Yeah, cool, whatever. Why is this good? Usually, when you add one point to a weapon's minimum damage, the average damage increases by 0.5. But when you have min>max, each point to the lower end of the weapon's damage pushes the max up as well, so each min damage point adds a whole point to the average. When you build an avenger, damage counts, so if I can make my +damage trinkets count double towards the average then, yes please.
I already had a full Griswold's set that would be great for this experiment, but I didn't want to kick my previous project's hard to get damage jewels out. I decided to throw some numbers at my plan and gathered a few facts:
- I wanted 8 FPA, the fastest single-handed sword attack speed. Should I get surrounded by flayers, I'd better deal with them as quickly as possible.
- I needed lots of +min damage, so that's not a lot of room left for gear with IAS to get to 8fpa.
- Damage-wise, fortitude was the best option, so that's even less IAS available. Only if I managed to score more than 300% off-weapon ED from other sources would an armor stuffed with +14 min jewels outdamage it. That's how powerful Fortitude is. Once upon a time I decided to make Grief with my first Lo, but seeing this armor get recycled through lots of other chars, I think that if I had to spend a first Lo again, I'd have made Fortitude first.
- Conclusion: I needed a fast weapon (I mean FAST) with high min damage. Only a phase blade would be fast enough, but the damage isn't great.
Solution: an ethereal phase blade with a high damage multiplier. Hax? Not really. It was only a question of putting lots of my previous mats/pats to work and use up their imbue quests on ethereal crystal swords and dimensional blades. I didn't really expect to get a good imbue, but still hoped for the best. Now this is what a nice ethereal imbued dimensional blade looks like when it's upgraded:
Yup, etherealness stays under an imbue. This weapon actually spawned with all mods relevant to my build:Code:Corpse Scratch Phase Blade One-Hand Damage: 210 to 210 Required Dexterity: 126 Required Strength: 15 Required Level: 68 Sword Class - Very Fast Attack Speed Indestructible Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 93 Fingerprint: 0xb04fb7 +304% Enhanced Damage +70 to Attack Rating +25 to Minimum Damage 9% Life stolen per hit Required Level +7 Ethereal (Cannot be Repaired), Socketed (1: 1 used)
- highish damage multiplier (270% ED + 34% ED from ruby jewel of bliss)
- +25 min damage (+16 min +9 min damage from that same jewel)
- life leech
- AR (ok, this one isn't very relevant for a conviction build, but still nice)
You can see the min>max principle in action here, though ATMA doesn't show that max becomes min+1.
When I worked the numbers, I calculated that my end-game paladin's damage would multiply each added +min point by 20.2. Even a +2 skills circlet would only add 150-ish damage whereas a +10 min damage circlet would add 200. Now I could see that +min damage would take priority over almost anything on my gear. The only non-damage things that I needed was CBF and 55% IAS for the 8 frame attack breakpoint (only 55%. That's peanuts for an avenger build).
I decided to get the Immortal King's gloves and belt for 25% IAS and socket a +11 min damage circlet for another 30% IAS.
That meant that I had some space left for added damage: boots (War traveler +15min), amulet (+2 pala skills +10min), and shield (+57 min)
On leech: since I decided to boost the physical part of my attacks by Might merc and Fortitude, I could skimp on the leech a bit. I went with a 3%LL/6%ML rare I had. The mana leech was sufficient for leechable enemies and the sword already had a hefty life leech, so ring and potato peeler provided enough leech together. I carried a 1.07 redemption/holy shield scepter on switch, so I could eat some souls between fights for life and mana as well.
My might merc got a Reaper's Toll weapon, a Delirium hat, and a Treachery armor.Code:Hat: Chromatic Coronet of Performance Defense: 39 Durability: 24 of 30 Required Level: 73 Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 96 Fingerprint: 0xa8735bcc +15% Enhanced Damage +11 to Minimum Damage All Resistances +22 30% Increased Attack Speed 10% Damage Taken Goes to Mana Socketed (2: 2 used) Amulet: Priest's Amulet of Performance Required Level: 73 Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 96 Fingerprint: 0x179ee5ff +10 to Minimum Damage +2 to Paladin Skill Levels Rare ring: Bone Circle Ring Required Level: 74 Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 87 Fingerprint: 0x9a80f8e9 +60 to Attack Rating +5 to Minimum Damage Fire Resist +11% Lightning Resist +31% Cold Resist +11% Poison Resist +11% 3% Life stolen per hit 6% Mana stolen per hit Obligatory raven frost: Raven Frost Ring Required Level: 45 Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 87 Fingerprint: 0x47cd8ac +20 to Dexterity +40 to Mana +241 to Attack Rating Adds 15-45 cold damage over 4 seconds 20% Cold Absorb Cannot Be Frozen Socketed pala shield: Gemmed Superior Sacred Targe Defense: 176 Chance to Block: 60% Smite Damage: 22 to 70 Durability: 41 of 45 (Paladin Only) Required Strength: 86 Required Level: 49 Item Version: 1.10+ Expansion Item Level: 79 Fingerprint: 0xb0773244 +23 to Maximum Stamina +6% Enhanced Defense +57 to Minimum Damage +8 Defense Fire Resist +66% Lightning Resist +45% Cold Resist +45% Poison Resist +73% Adds 15-58 fire damage Replenish Life +4 Socketed (4: 4 used) Charms +1 offensive skiller +2 combat skillers +some resists +25 min from 1.07 damage charms (and +2 from a 1.10 grand charm :P)
One doesn't simply walk into Mordor, I mean Hell. It takes practice. Something the kind designers reminded us of by having to work through two whole difficulty levels to get to the relevant part of the game. I played through as follows:
+poison damage low-level twinking gear until lvl 15. Grab a raven claw at 15, wear twitchthroe, and call an enchantress for help. End the rest of normal.
I wanted to have some fun here, so I punched my way through Act I and Act II? It worked well. So well, in fact, that I now believe a min-damage punchadin to be actually viable through Hell as well. *gasp!*
To finish the rest of Nightmare, I used Voice of Reason. This sword shoots frozen orbs on striking sometimes. That and conviction meant that act III was actually fun this time. Not so fun was getting instagibbed by an exploding undead doll. Paladins aren't barbs, and can (in my case, will) get one-shotted.
Hell (Act I-III P8, Act IV-V P3):
I started Hell in my low seventies. I had to get to 75 for my endgame weapon, so for leveling I went two-handed with an eth Oath balrog blade. That's one-hit killing stuff when you're an avenger. That's also a lot of corpse runs, because you don't have a third hand for a shield to block with.
When I got my endgame phaser, stuff died. I couldn't reproduce my Beast wielding avenger's damage potential, but got close enough with an average total damage of 6.7k.
Unleechable skeletons and ghosts weren't that annoying, because I managed 22% damage to mana on my gear. Mana burn unleechables were annoying, but not too dangerous. The biggest danger of all was getting surrounded. With a single-target 8frame attack and moderate leech, it simply wasn't possible to handle a crowd of admirers. That's why I gave my merc a Delirium hat. With lots of chances to proc Confuse, monsters around me started to leak brain and attack each other. That resulted in useful situations where evil little demons were fighting each other while I turned them inside out with my sword.
Also not nice:
- charging snakes/undead: they suck when you have 1k life.
- stygian furies/witches that shoot with physical damage. I could tank elemental damage well (80+resists), but lots of there flying red balls meant death. The only tactic to win was to hit and run and pray that the merc could proc decrepify or confuse.
- undead dolls. Their death explosions that don't get blocked kinda sting.
- gloams. Even with 90 light res, you don't want five of those crossing their streams to fry you. Blizzard should patch and replace them with harmless kittens instead.
The fights with the prime evils were mostly a matter of time, not skill. Their huge mountain of hitpoints would only go down 6.7k damage at a time, since I had no crushing blow whatsoever. The ancients were harder. The first time I tried to fight them I thought I was doing OK, until I just exploded on the spot. Maybe I should have read their mods before swinging like mad. The next fight I did manage to read mods, and was able to make myself scarce before the might enhanced extra strong leaper got to me. The final fight: no nasty mods, merely mana burn which I could leech back.
Prime evils dropped colored squat and Hellforge gave me Lum and Hel.
I did find something unexpected from a crypt in the dungeon. At first I thought it was another manald heal, but it was a BKWB. A grailer! Only 18 left to go. That'll only take me a small handful of eons to complete.
Another surprise random find was a random Gul rune from a random urn in a random Snake temple level 2 dungeon in act II.
* There's always a surprise around the corner. And, no, I didn't.
* 20 measly life is actually a lot when you're a low life melee fighter.
* A Paladin's weaponless idle animation looks funny.
* Somehow, eating dead demons' souls doesn't sound like a very holy-knightish thing to do.
* Confusion keeps you safe, but stay away from the shrooms!
* Easter egg! Patch 1.13 introduced the hidden Undead Chihuahua merc. All you have to do is chase a rabbit through the bloody foothills. Then, Shenk's death explosion will turn it into a see-through skeleton dog.
* This is my 10th Paladin Patriarch. Can I get help for that? I think this will be my last avenger (but that's what I thought the previous times as well).