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  1. #1
    IncGamers Member Greebo's Avatar
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    My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Some time ago I gave advice to someone that it might well be very possible to run Ancient Tunnels with a Frost Nova sorceress. Somewhat crazy, I know. But the math seemed to speak for itself.

    Under no circumstances can Frost Nova be considered more powerful than Blizzard. For killing Mephisto or Baal it's like comparing a bazooka to an airgun. The thing about Blizzard though, sometimes a monster keeps standing under two blizzards and nothing hits it for a few seconds.

    How often do monsters die before you have the time to cast a second Blizzard? Not very often. Which means at least 1.8 seconds of waiting. That's 5 Frost Novas. Surely with the right gear, those can kill almost anything, no?

    Thus, Willow was born. I'll split this write-up into two main pieces, one about questing, and one about AT running. I actually went and recorded three gameplay videos for MFing (first time I played around with capture).

    The Name: Willow is named after a character from Whedon's first TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the series, Willow is a very powerful witch with a nasty dark side.

    Part 1: Questing


    The Design: I wanted to quest through the game with a maxed Frost Nova, which meant about 21-23 points for a backup skill. I decided to go with Nova (which tuned out OK). Overall, Frost Nova / Nova sorceress is pure bliss and fun.

    The way Willow was planned, she was extremely unbalanced: the entire gear and skill allocation was aimed towards maximizing FN damage, and Nova got only scraps and leftovers. I will remake this build one day and try to keep it balanced, dual nova's are so much fun. The way she turned out, Nova was underpowered and FN was way overpowered (yes, that can actually happen).

    Willow, a Level 81 Sorceress
    Code:
    Str 154/156   
    Dex  25/ 46   
    Vit 281/303
    Ene  35/ 25
    
    Life 1,524
    Mana   862
    (after Battle Orders)
    
    Resistances: 32/15/75/-15
    
    LCS highlights:
      -------
      Frost Nova: 1,617-1,815 (avg. 1,716)
      Nova:         686-  920 (avg.   803)
      + 65% CSD (Cold Skill Damage)
      -151% eCR (Enemy Cold Resistance), incl. -11% from gear
      + 15% LSD (Lightning Skill Damage)
      -------
      Defense 2.6k
      FHR  70% [8 frames @  60%]
      FCR 125% [8 frames @ 105%]
    Skills
    Frost Nova 20 [45], +synergies 40, Cold Mastery 3 [25]
    Nova 20 [31], Lightning Mastery 1 [12]
    Teleport, TK, Warmth, Frozen Armor, Static: 1 [?]

    Gear
    Weapon: Death's Fathom (+22%, socketed with +5/-4 facet for +27/-4 total CSD)
    Shield: 'Spirit' Monarch, rolled for 112 Mana/ 35 FCR
    Switch: beta 'Call to Arms' + 'Spirit'
    -----
    Helm: Nightwing's Veil (+15% CSD plus +5/-4 facet for +20/-4 total CSD)
    Armor: Frost Nova Ormus Robes (stuffed with a +5/-3 cold facet, total of +18/-3 CSD, +15 LSD)
    Belt: Arachnid Mesh
    Gloves: Trang's
    Boots: Rare 30 FRW, 10 FHR, 33 FireRes, 32 LightRes, 5 MF
    -----
    Amulet: Glacial Amulet of the Apprentice (+3 Cold / 10 FCR) - Big Thanks! to Fabian for trading me this one
    Rings: 2x Stone of Jordan
    -----
    Charms:
    8x Cold Skiller
    9x (Shimmering/Amber/Ruby)small charms (a couple with life)
    Cube, Tome of Identify
    1x1 empty space

    Comments on gear
    There could be some improvements to the gear, but not many. With perfect rolls of DF and Ormus, you could go up from +65 to +75 CSD. Short of that only faceted Monarch could improve this setup, I think. Of course getting the maximum damage out of Frost Nova meant that I really really struggled with resistances. I was below 75 even for lightning until Anya quest. That was very unusual experience for me, most of the time I like to keep resistances at least in the 40's and max Fire and Lightning. I mean, CE bosses hurt me! That was new...

    Moron
    Act 2 Prayer
    'Insight' in a 1.07 eth Thresher
    'Fortitude', Vamp Gaze ('Um')

    Overall
    Fun: 10/10
    Difficulty: 8/10
    Future: many /p1 AT runs

    The journey, remarks & musings
    She started off hitting things with a big hammer on /p8. As soon as she got to level 6, Willow got herself a +3 FN Staff, put on 30 MPK 1.07 haxx and spammed death. Still had to drink quite a few blue pots, but it was reasonable till 15, when I got bored of potion addiction and switched to Ravenbazooka. The most interesting thing was that Cain's portal didn't close.

    Leveled her on /p8 until the moron hit Level 27 and she hit 29 around Travincal and equipped some great gear. Vipermagi, 2x SoJ, Viscecurant, Magefists, Peasant, Eye of Etlich, 'Insight'... Any sorceress can own from level 29. The journey onwards was somewhat uneventful. She could easily handle /p8 NM Baaling with Frost Nova and that's how she got to 75. There I could equip almost my entire gear, except for Arachnid Mesh. Nice thing: she was designed in a way that allowed 105 FCR without the belt.

    Hell was /p1 and... interesting. When I entered it, I had already finished my 21 point Nova, but FN still had some way to go. I had to spend a lot of points on Strength to equip 'Spirit', so even with beta-'CtA' my life was on a low-ish side, barely over 1k. Which is a lot, I know, but for a character with very little resistances and no blocking, things got tricky a few times. Especially that both FN and Nova require you to teleport into a pack of monsters to be really effective. Or really cool, for that matter. FHR from 'Spirit' was crucial here, as well as mana I got off it. I actually rerolled myself 35/112 one. This girl needs a lot of mana. I was still drinking blue pots, even with 'Insight'.

    I leveled her till 80 in the AT /p3 runs (which she could handle with ease similar to how she handles herself in the below videos at /p1, in her MF gear).

    Overall, Frost Nova was very powerful, killing monsters on /p1 was a matter of a couple of casts and it was very, very safe. Nova on the other hand was underpowered. But my moron was doing very decent damage, so it wasn't a big deal. Nice thing about my Nova backup was that it was dealing very nicely with swarming monsters, like Flyers. Killing CI bosses was more of a job for the moron though. Took me a while to kill a CI/PI Thresh Socket.

    Hell HF was an Ist. The two ancients who weren't CI went down like flies, but the third one took a while. Not too long though. Baal's waves were very easy to take on, even at /p3. Didn't take screenie of Lister, since I had an NDE. I ended up killing Baal with FN, but I cast a few Blizzards too.

    I had quite a few deaths, including two because of screenshot taking. She is a glass canon, despite the high life. If you take your eye of her for a moment, she goes down pretty quickly. The only magic absorption was from 'Spirit' and that isn't much. Couple that with no blocking, low defense and low resistances... Yeah, I died quite a few times. Nice thing is, with 20-pt Blizzard, she can easily rescue her body.

    As a final word let me say this: Frost Nova, Nova and War Cry are probably my favorite skills in the game. Spreading outwards from the caster, stunning, chilling or putting monsters in hit recovery, they are just so much fun. I loved playing this character, she was great. Too bad there isn't a "ring of fire" or something. Instead of Inferno. That'd be cool.

    Part 2: AT running

    As great as Willow's gear was, MF was not a strong suit. So I had to change gear. I underlined what changed, MF in parenthesis:

    Weapon: Death's Fathom (with facet, for the total of +27/-4 CSD)
    Shield: 'Spirit' (35% FCR, 112 Mana)
    Switch: beta-'CtA' + 'Spirit'
    -----
    Helm: Shako (PTopaz) (74)
    Armor: eth Skullder's (PTopaz) (132)
    Belt: Arachnid Mesh
    Gloves: Trang's
    Boots: War Travs (50)
    -----
    Amulet: Glacial Amulet of the Apprentice
    Rings: 2x SoJ
    -----
    Charms:
    GC's: Gheeds (40), 7x Cold Skillers
    SC's: 7FR/5MF, 9FR/5MF, 8LR/3MF, 9LR/5MF, 16Mana/7MF, 10FR/17Life, 10LR/20Life, 11LR/5FHR, 11LR/3FRW (Total of 25 MF)

    Moron: I switched Vamp Gaze for Andy's with 23FRes/15IAS jewel.

    Code:
    Level: 87
    
    Skills:  FN 20 [42], 40 in synergies
             CM 11 [33]
             Frozen Armor 1 [22], TK, TP, Warmth, Static: 1 [12]
    Unspent: 19
    
    Life: 1,832
    Mana: 1,078
    
    Resistances: -13/-5/43/-35
    
    Frost Nova: 1,130-1,273 (avg. 1201.5)
    -184% eCR
    + 27% CSD
    
    Defense: 3.8k
    FHR:  60% [8 frames at  56%]
    FCR: 105% [8 frames at 105%]
    
    Magic Find: 321
    If I manage to get or craft or find or gamble +2 Cold/10 FCR/MF amulet, I'll use it instead. Actually, a better option would probably be FCR/MF ring and a Glacial Amulet of Good Luck. The thing is, this lady really needs her Mana. 1050 is enough, 850 was more problematic. So giving up a SoJ might be a bad idea. Tough call. For now I don't have either option available to me, so yay!

    I think that 321 MF is plenty and I don't think decreasing her damage for a few MF points is a good idea. I mean, I could throw out 2 skillers for 42 MF, but I'm almost sure I won't do that, although I might try something like this. See how it goes.

    I'm torn about what to do with unspent points. I could dump them into Frozen Armor and upgrade my Skullder's. It's ethereal, so it should require 155 Strength. Together, this could give me a significant boost to Defense. My view is that Sorceress is actually the class where Defense makes sense, since she almost never walks or runs. She's basically casting or hit recovering the whole time. On the other hand, I only have issues with elemental damage, really. And defense won't help me with that even a bit.

    Or I could get a Nova (again) and help the moron kill the CIs. I'm not sure.

    Comments of effectiveness, running methods, etc
    In general, the only way to gain significant MF was to give up more than half of +CSD. Pity. But, at -180 eCD, a 1.2k FN damage will deal 2.4k per cast, which gives over 7.2k damage per second. It's enough. I wouldn't want to go down below 1k, but she'd be fine with a little less. The point is: I don't think this character is MF-viable without at least one source of +CSD, be it armor, helm or orb. I mean, she'd do OK, but would lose to Blizzy. The way she is, she can hold her own in /p1 AT competition.

    By the way: I went with -180 eCR because Spectal Hit, Magic Resistant bosses of three monster types in AT have 80 CR. Since I had the points to spare... I could have settled for -179, obviously, but why not be perfect when you can?

    Willow plays much differently than a Blizzy does. She teleports on top of bosses, spams death and moves on. She can be really fast. I'm not a fast runner by nature but I tried to take a couple of vids (below) to show how good she can be. I think I'll try for a better map in the future too. This one averages a bit over 5 bosses per run, that could be better.

    The teleporting on top of the boss has one significant advantage: often times the moron will start working on the boss right away. That helps a lot. Very often I won't even notice that the boss is CI until it's almost dead, that's how fast they go down. And in that time, the rest of the bosspack is down too, obviously.

    One remark if you want to try and make one of those: be careful not to cast on a monster. If you do that, you stop casting when it dies. You can lock on a boss, but I prefer to lock onto nothing.

    She's very safe, in general. Elemental damage does cause problems, but that's what Rejuvs are for, I believe. I could give up a bit of power or MF for higher resists, but I like her as she is. She's not as boring as my Blizzy was.

    I'm not going to say she is better than a Blizzard Sorceress. At /p1 (and only on /p1) she can be just as good. I was aiming to be as good as Corrupted was in this video and I think I managed to be almost as fast. At higher player settings Blizzard Sorc will win. Things is, at /p3 monsters don't always go into hit recovery and that can cause a world of trouble for a FN Sorc. So yeah, she is purely a /p1 runner.

    Here's the point of all this for me: I have limited patience for running an area or playing a build. I run Meph 12k times and AT about 7k times with Blizzsorc and, well, I'm bored with her. This lady is exciting, new and fun. I'm excited to run AT with her, which I wasn't feeling for quite some time. And she already rewarded me with a Lo. Overall I'm very happy I've made her.

    Part 3: The Good Stuff
    I recorder a video with six bosspacks, under 40sec. Feel free to watch:

    AT run (6 bosses in under 40 seconds)


    -------------
    Thanks to all of you who read through all of this. Took ages to write, but I hope it was a worthwhile read.

    --Greebo

    PS. I pressed "Submit New Thread" about 30 seconds after the squid ate the forum for 2h. I'm so happy I backed this whole post up before doing that... I blame Durf.


    Last edited by Greebo; 31-01-2011 at 18:09.

  2. #2
    IncGamers Member NagisaFurukawa's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Congrats. Frost Nova is pretty darn fun, so hopefully this puts the build on the map again. It surprised me not many others (to my knowledge) gave it a shot after poops, bcoe, and others a while back.

    Just one thing. It's never going to be quite as efficient as a Blizzard sorceress. Definitely more interesting though.

    Also, have you run into any LECE[FE] monsters with that kind of resistance? I can't say for sure, but I can imagine it being problematic, especially for those with more "normal" gear.



  3. #3
    IncGamers Member poopie_pants's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Congrats on the awesome character Greebo, definitely a refreshing change to the normal Sorc builds, particularly ones intended for MF'ing. I'm also glad to hear that you enjoy playing her so much...effective build + fun factor = successful character . I'll definitely have to give this build a whirl sometime in the future, although I'm lacking the appropriate gear (namely a DF, and cold skillers)...still, perhaps I'll trial one using a full Tal's set, just to get a feel for the character.

    Also, I enjoyed the write-up and equally impressive vid's. Thanks for taking the time to put it together, and I look forward to future projects from you. Congrats again.

    -PP




  4. #4
    IncGamers Member nulio's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Congrats I really love Nova and FN.

    The Cain portal not closing happens when the character is positioned in the spot where the portal opens when it's casted.

    The videos made me realize that I suck at running AT



  5. #5
    IncGamers Member
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Brilliant write-up. I have a FN-sorc that is my primary AT runner. She's Aix_Sponsa (in the mat/pat thread), though she's been re-specced to be more of a AT-specialist. I have similar gear to yours. My solution for the final points was to max warmth, one point in fire mastery, and put the rest in fire wall. Gives a big boost to mana regen and is useful against CI bosses (though they are reasonably often FI too).




  6. #6
    IncGamers Member zarqu's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Congratz on another Mat !

    Good write-up. Very detailed. I'll be returning to this thread as I'm leveling a cold sorc at the moment. I only say "cold" sorc because I haven't decided between Blizzard and FNova. Both are interesting, but Blizzard is just classic And since I don't have one yet *hide*



  7. #7
    IncGamers Member Greebo's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Quote Originally Posted by NagisaFurukawa View Post
    Congrats. Frost Nova is pretty darn fun, so hopefully this puts the build on the map again. It surprised me not many others (to my knowledge) gave it a shot after poops, bcoe, and others a while back.
    Thanks! It's a great build. It requires some decent gear, so certainly not first character, but it's a lot of fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by NagisaFurukawa View Post
    Just one thing. It's never going to be quite as efficient as a Blizzard sorceress. Definitely more interesting though.
    I kind of disagree. She can be equally efficient to Blizzy on /p1, in my view. It depends on your play style, or skill if you prefer. I run AT faster with her than I ever did with my Blizzy. And I like it much more, too.

    I managed 6 bosspacks run in 38-39 seconds. That's the fastest I've ever managed AT. So for me, personally, she is better than Blizzy. I imagine the same can be true for others. Her style of play suits me much much more than Blizzy and I am faster with her than I ever was with Blizzsorc.

    A Blizzsorc on /p3 or higher will beat Willow running /p1 in terms of finds, almost certainly.

    All that is not the point, not for me: I'm not running AT with a Blizzsorc, because I got bored with it. This lady I am not bored with, I find her runs exhilarating. More runs = more finds. That's the bottom line for me. And if she can come to being 80%-90% as efficient as the best Blizzard AT runners (which I think she does), that's good enough for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by NagisaFurukawa View Post
    Also, have you run into any LECE[FE] monsters with that kind of resistance? I can't say for sure, but I can imagine it being problematic, especially for those with more "normal" gear.
    The first boss in the 2:04 video was something like that. You can see my life disappear quite fast. That's what Rejuvs are for. I only died once running so far. Without 1.8k life it would be much bigger problem. If frozzzen can manage CS with -70's throughout, surely I can manage her, no?

    You are right about the gear. This isn't a runner for beginners.

    Quote Originally Posted by poopie_pants View Post
    I'll definitely have to give this build a whirl sometime in the future, although I'm lacking the appropriate gear (namely a DF, and cold skillers)...still, perhaps I'll trial one using a full Tal's set, just to get a feel for the character.
    The one bcoe mentioned was Mated with Tal's, you might give that a read. I can certainly recommend this build!

    Quote Originally Posted by poopie_pants View Post
    Also, I enjoyed the write-up and equally impressive vid's. Thanks for taking the time to put it together, and I look forward to future projects from you. Congrats again.
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by nulio View Post
    Congrats I really love Nova and FN. The Cain portal not closing happens when the character is positioned in the spot where the portal opens when it's casted. The videos made me realize that I suck at running AT
    Thanks! It's nice to know about Cain. It always amazes me that no matter how much I do know about this game, there's still new things to learn.

    The first time I saw Corrupted's video a few years back (I think), my jaw dropped. At the time it was taking me 2:30 to kill 5 bosspacks. I've come along since

    Quote Originally Posted by bcoe View Post
    Brilliant write-up.
    Thanks! That's really nice to hear, especially after it took me many an hour to write it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bcoe View Post
    I have a FN-sorc that is my primary AT runner. She's Aix_Sponsa (in the mat/pat thread), though she's been re-specced to be more of a AT-specialist.
    I've read your thread, it was well done! Your setup for questing was certainly more reasonable than mine. I wanted to try to go for max damage FN, but it made my Nova pretty weak.

    Quote Originally Posted by bcoe View Post
    My solution for the final points was to max warmth, one point in fire mastery, and put the rest in fire wall. Gives a big boost to mana regen and is useful against CI bosses (though they are reasonably often FI too).
    That's interesting. I hadn't even thought about it. Mana regeneration is really nice thing on this character, there's no question about it. I forgot about Warmth. I was leaning towards Nova, because LI monsters have the least life (and so are easiest killed by the moron). But I might try FW. That's what respecs are for, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by zarqu View Post
    Congratz on another Mat! Good write-up. Very detailed.
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by zarqu View Post
    I'll be returning to this thread as I'm leveling a cold sorc at the moment. I only say "cold" sorc because I haven't decided between Blizzard and FNova. Both are interesting, but Blizzard is just classic And since I don't have one yet *hide*
    You should of course do what you enjoy, but I will say this: If I were to do a restart (which I'm really really not), I'd start with a Blizzsorc.

    -----
    Thanks for all the comments!
    --Greebo



  8. #8
    IncGamers Member zarfen's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Congratz on the cool sorc!
    Ever since I read about jae's dual nove sorc I've been wanting to try a high end Fnova out. After restarting this plan is set back even further, but it's definately on my to-do list.

    Have fun in the AT!




  9. #9
    IncGamers Member humbuggerer's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    Quote Originally Posted by Greebo View Post
    Some time ago I gave advice to someone that it might well be very possible to run Ancient Tunnels with a Frost Nova sorceress. Somewhat crazy, I know. But the math seemed to speak for itself.
    Perhaps you were referring to this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Greebo View Post


    Seriously, though, nice writeup for a really nice toon. And those vids are pretty eye-opening.. Makes me want to finally trade for the stuff I need to finish my FN sorc.

    One thing that occurs to me is that you could squeeze out another +skill, at the expense of some MF, if you changed your armor to an 'enigma' (assuming you've got one).

    Good job!



  10. #10
    IncGamers Member NagisaFurukawa's Avatar
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    Re: My #17 Matriarch: Willow, a 1.7k+ avg Frost Nova Sorc, moving on to /p1 AT

    The one thing is you can stack more MF on a Blizzard sorceress. I know you feel 321 is enough, but shooting up to around 700 does give you a tidy 30% boost.

    Aside from that, there's the safety/mana concerns. Blizzard is much safer, and doesn't run into close to as many mana issues (either in planning or practice) as Frost Nova.

    Not that I don't agree with you. I'd much rather use FN than Blizzard. It's just not as efficient is all.



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