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. [size=+2]Part 1: Questing[/size] 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) [highlight] + 65% CSD (Cold Skill Damage)[/highlight] -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 , +synergies 40, Cold Mastery 3  Nova 20 , Lightning Mastery 1  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. [size=+2]Part 2: AT running[/size] 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 , 40 in synergies CM 11  Frozen Armor 1 , TK, TP, Warmth, Static: 1  Unspent: 19 Life: 1,832 Mana: 1,078 Resistances: -13/-5/43/-35 Frost Nova: 1,130-1,273 (avg. [highlight]1201.5[/highlight]) -184% eCR + 27% CSD Defense: 3.8k FHR: 60% [8 frames at 56%] FCR: 105% [8 frames at 105%] [highlight]Magic Find: 321[/highlight] 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. [size=+2]Part 3: The Good Stuff[/size] 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.