Aughild's Brow: Ugly as Hell.
Finally got to writing this up! As promised in many posts and PMs.
As of right now, I have 8 live HC lvl 60s I've levelled this way, and a few dead ones as well. I also will have video demonstration of key points in the guide coming up sometime this week - have a bit of trouble with my movie maker right now.
*If you are reading this guide, I will ask you not to share the guide (or the tactics used in it) with others.
Yes, I know it's already in the open, but I would prefer if it gains as little exposure as possible. While I do want the HC community to thrive, and I do want to help people who lost a character recently (to lag, crash, bad luck, etc) and got discouraged to get back on their feet... I am also not a good samaritan. I want to share with the people I like, which includes everyone I've met on this Hardcore Forum, but, of course, not as everyone I've met in game or on the official forums, or elsewhere. None of the knowledge in this guide is particularly secret, it's more of a matter of systematizing and popularizing it that matters. And I think we can agree that we don't want it too popular
*No exploits are employed throughout, however, I will be exploiting (in the softer sense of the word) a few things that Diablo 3 makes easy: experience stacking, instance resets, act bypass and key area/mob grinding.
*This is going to make the game boring. Seriously, if you want to have fun levelling, do it the normal way, solo, with friends, or pubs. This guide is for those who strictly want to get to Inferno quickly (where the supposedly more fun awaits)
*This is not for fresh HC lvl 1s. This guide assumes you've been to lvl 60 before, and generated enough funds or twinking gear to make this playthrough quick and relatively painless.
*This is a solo guide. We will employ a friend/relative/second account for waypoints only, not actual killing. A true rushing/powerlevelling would have you follow a beefy lvl 60, but this costs someones's time, and money.
*The "under 7 hours" promise is not strictly true (the game only records game time, not menu time). We will also spend a bit of time in the menus and checking AH. Still, even my record of 6:46 can be improved. I waste plenty of time staring at the stash and sometimes not grinding too effectively. So all in all, there are things to consider on either side.
With that out of the way...
3. Normal (1-30)
4. Nightmare (31-50)
5. Hell (51-60)
a) We're going to need a bit of gold. I'd say 1 million is a good start, but the more the better.
If you’re on a tight budget, the majority of this can be done with as little as 250k. If you want to speed things up in the lvl 40-60 portion, you’re going to need a good bit for a solid lvl 60 weapon with reduced level requirement. Remember, you can sell back the gear you bought, so consider it an investment, not an expense!
b) Friends. You will need a few of those on your list, because you’ll have to bother them periodically to give you certain WPs. No worries, not too often. Just don’t become annoying. That’s why you’re going to need several friends. I would ask a single friend for 1 waypoint per 3 days, at the most. It takes only a few seconds to create a game, but it is a bit distracting. Of course, you can also trade favors, or buy WPs on the forums, typically for 5-10k.
c) Optional: have a secondary account close by. My spouse has an account with a character that has every WP open up to end of A1 inferno. This makes things a lot easier for me, but by no means mandatory.
d) Ideally, you’ll also want some knowledge of the class you’re speedrunning with, if you haven’t played it before. Personally, I’ve lost a lvl 40 DH and a lvl 28 Wizard because it was my first time playing them and I simply hadn’t figured out the class limitations, and the encounters that would be trivial for my barbs ended up being deadly to them.
a) Have a plan of skills you’re going to use. We’re going to be grinding lots of soft mobs, and face an elite regularly, so a good balance of quick AOE and nukes are going to be needed. Lots of the time the boss will be too powerful for normal characters, but since we will reset instances often, the cooldowns will be ready every time! What does this mean? A WOTB/EQ combo takes up 2 slots and isn’t very efficient for normal grinding with 2 min cooldowns, but what if we reset the cooldown every 1 min instead? You’ll also want a faster travel skill. Lastly, you will be speedrunning. This means going headfirst into danger. O-crap skill!
Here’s what worked for me. I'm not going to provide builds, just list skills. This is because there is no single build throughout the game, you will need to adapt to each section of the run.
Barb: Cleave with Rupture; Furious Charge with Merciless Assault; WOTB or Quake or both; Ignore Pain; Sprint with Marathon; Leap with Iron Impact. Mix and match as needed depending on situations (I’ll go into more details later on)
Monk: Crippling Wave with Mangle; Fleetfooted, Tempest Rush with speed; Blind, Heal, Invincibility and a Mantra of your choice.
DH: Bolos or Hungering; Rapid Fire or Elemental; full discipline selection for 1-4.
Wizard: Shock with Explosive Bolts; Arcane Orb; Crysal Shell; Nova; Archon Form
Passive don’t matter much for this. Compensate where you feel the need.
b) Get your speedrun gear. You don’t need it all at once, but I like to have it ready in my stash, sorted by level so I can quickly pick out what I need.
Here are the points of major upgrades:
Level 1: Vendor weapon
3: 12+ dps
6: IAS, damage rings
8: 16+ dps
10: full set of stat/vita/exp in every slot
15: 45+ dps socketed weapon with a flawless square ruby or better
16: Broken crown socketed with a ruby
25: 50+ dps socketed, with high stat/vita/exp
30-31: 65+ dps socketed
25-40: armor with high stat/vita/exp
38: 100+ dps socketed
42-46: 250+ lvl 60 weapon with reduced level
42: Aughild’s Helm socketed with highest ruby you can get
46-50: Better anything
54: better anything
55+: Doesn’t really matter, at this point just use what you have, but if you have upgrades that’s good too
The difficult one here is the reduced level, lvl 60 weapon. These can cost millions, but if you’re lucky you can snipe one off cheap. If not, not too big of a deal, even a 250 will suffice. Later, you can buy a higher dps one, because they get cheaper as the reduced level gap gets closer to 60. For example a 500+ dps 200+ vita lvl 42 like the one I use can cost a few millions. Same stats on a lvl 50 will probably be under 1m. Once again, remember, this isn’t an expense, but an investment. These weapons sell very well. I’d stay away from 2handers though. You’re going to be a bit fragile, so a shield is preferred. Unless you’re DH, in which case you might as well get a 2h+quiver (I bought a great blue ilvl 44 2h xbow (I believe 450 dps) for around 400k).
3. Normal (1-30)
And we’re out of the gates. At low levels quest experience is king, so that’s what we’ll be doing.
*Get to town and buy a blue weapon from a vendor
*Complete the Wretched Mother quest, you should be level 3 and ready to use the first of your twink gear
*Complete the quests all the way to finding cemetery, you should be level 6 and doubling your dps with those ias/dmg rings I told you about (they cost peanuts on AH)
*At this point you can either:
A) complete all of A1, twinking as you go. This should give you lvl 15 by the end of it
B) have a new game open at Cursed Hold subquest. From here on, run to Festing Woods -> Crypt of the Ancients, and grind it until lvl 12. Then complete the Cursed Hold/Butcher 1.5 times, and you will be 15. Note, this is the riskier option, but a bit quicker.
*At level 15 equip your ruby-socketed weapon. You will be doing insane damage, but remember, you’re still squishy!
*Have a game open at Act2 -> Black Soulstone/Chamber. If you can’t get a game there, just quest through A2, it’s very quick either way
*Find Vault of the Assassin (dungeon just past the last set of sewers)
*Grind it until 20. At 16, don’t forget to equip your Broken Crown socketed with a ruby, or another good + exp socketed helm. This speeds up the exp gains quickly.
*There is typically one HUGE crowd of skeletons in VoA. Don’t restart the dungeon until you find and kill it.
*Don’t waste time chasing runners. Just go to your next big pack of mobs. Sprint/Vault/Tempest Rush until you’re out of resources. For monks, the 250 spirit pool helps, for DHs, don’t forget preparation.
*At 20, have a game open at Azmodan (final quest). A slightly earlier one works too, doesn’t matter much.
*Go to Arreat Crater 1 and grind away. You’re looking for the scorp packs, and ideally you’ll want to skip the bosses/single mobs. This isn’t a safe thing to do at 20, but you can start skipping around 25.
*At 30, have a game open at Normal Diablo. If your friend is kind, have them kill it for you (as well as NM Diablo right after, if they are VERY kind). Don’t forget to return the favor. Or just kill it yourself, very easy to stun lock.
4. Nightmare (31-50)
*Things will get a bit harder here. If you feel like you’re not twinked enough, stay back in the earlier areas. Around 33 everything in A1 will be trivial.
*Open a game at Cursed Hold
*Run to Festering-Crypt of the Ancients
*This will take some time and is probably most boring portion of the run
*You can get the 100+ dps weapon at 38, but try and buy a good one as early as possible.
*Grind Crypt, watch out for the boss that spawns here (I recommend nuking it, or running out on bad mods, though I haven’t had to run out more than once or twice).
*At 40, a lot of twink upgrades should be open for you
*Open a game in A2-Soulstone Chamber, once again find VoA (note, the desert with VoA is quite dangerous in between lacuni, accursed and bees).
*Grind VoA until 42-45 or whenever your Reduced Level weapon upgrade opens
*Watch out for Guardians (spider like casters). They can destroy you FAST.
*I recommend putting on Aughild Helm with your class stats (or high vita), socketed with a high ruby (I use a 25% one). This is a very good levelling helm that can last a long time.
*Once your lvl 60 weapon is in your hand, have a game open at NM Azmodan or near there.
*Hit up Arreat 1 until 50, once again seeking out scorp packs.
*I don’t recommend Arreat 2 or Core because of succubi and the phasebeasts.
*At 50 put on the last of your twink armor, open a game at NM Diablo and kill it (or have a friend kill it, once again very easy for twinks)
5. Hell (51-60)
*Hell is either a joke or quite hard, depending on how good your lvl 60 RLR weapon is. Around 500 dps with good stats, it should be a joke. If you’re stuck with a 250, it will be pretty stressful.
*Once again, start a game with Festering (you can get Leah if you want), Crypt of the Ancients. 3 affix boss in there will be just a normal skeleton, very easy to nuke down unless it’s a shielder. High/fast AOE skills are awesome here: Ball lightning, Merciless Assault, Sweeping Wind + Cripping, etc.
*You can stay here until as late as 57, or just 54, depending on how comfortable you feel about hitting the final stretch
*At 54-57, have a game open at first quest of A3
*Enter the Light the Beacons rampart, and grind it until the first boss. When you see a boss, run back out and restart. You can try and take a boss, but chances are it won’t end well, or simply take too long
*You can grind with fast restarts (e.g. barb leap to first pack, stomp and quake, leap out), or take your time to clear the whole section of the rampart (works well with monk and DH). Either way takes about same time, except fast restarts may get you locked out (Invalid Input error). It’s also less boring if you clear more. At this point, it should take 15-20 min per level, so 1-2 hours to 60.
*At 60, drop off your exp gear and get geared for Inferno!
Few more things.
*Don’t feel like you HAVE to get the perfect exp/stat/vita gear. You really don’t. My DH had barely any bonus exp except Aughild’s. Remember, if you can get high stat/vita gear, you can kill faster and safer… which in the end works out to more exp/hour. But ideally, you want both high stats AND high bonus exp, of course. This costs more, obviously.
*Barb is probably the safest and easiest to run this with, but every class is possible.
*The time you save levelling is the time you can spend MFing at 60 to compensate for money spent on levelling!
*Remember, if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. Don’t burn out grinding the bloody Crypt of the bloody Ancients. You can leave one character and go play another (also speed run in another area, or play the normal way) in the meantime, which is what I do when I’m bored.
*Play to beat a record! I’ve set out to make a video running to 60 in under 7 hours, but I went over for a bit. I did however beat the 7 hours mark on my next barb. The challenge was worthwhile.
*Think of ways to improve! The 6-15 section is a bit of a drag, same with 30-40 but I haven’t found a way to improve those. Let me know, online or on the forums, if you find better ways to speedlevel!