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Diablo 3 Season 14 While I Wait for BFA

This weekend — maybe the last week — has been really, really hard to get any time in to game. Diablo 3’s Season 14 launched on Friday at 5pm, and I was all set to get in there any level up my Barbarian. Between family stuff that came up and work, I had wasn’t able to play until this afternoon. Things didn’t quite go according to plan, but despite that I was able to hit level 70 and actually get many of the items I need to start my build.
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Diablo for Switch All But Confirmed

Just over a week ago we were speculating that this might be a thing...

Seems to me this all but confirms that Diablo is coming to Switch.

As I've said before, this presents a very nice addition to the Switch portfolio. This is an action, hack and slash, RPG which is really an underrepresented genre on consoles.

I find myself weirdly tempted by the idea. Diablo on the go. That's appealing to me.

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Diablo 3 on Switch and Warcraft 3 Remastered?

The Blizzard rumor mill is running rampant over the past few days. While these rumors are pure speculation and in many ways hopeful wishing, I’m still liking everything I hear.

Diablo 3 on Switch

First we have a rumor that Diablo 3 will come to the Nintendo Switch. There’s also a rumor of a local co-op mode, which has me intrigued though admittedly I would be very disappointed if there wasn’t online play.

The Switch does need hack and slash action RPGs. Though I’m not sure whether or not I could find a place for D3 on the Switch, since I’ve played it just about as much as I’d like to on the PC, it makes for a good addition to the console and a reason to back up Nintendo’s statement about expecting a longer shelf life on the Switch.

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Diablo 3 Season 12: The 3-Dayer?

I needed a game to pass the time until Battlefront 2 comes out, so I decided to jump in a few days after the start of Diablo 3’s 12th season. For the uninitiated, a season basically means you start a character over at level 0 and play ‘fresh’. Each season tends to bring a patch to balance things, maybe introduce some new items, etc.

Season 12 did a ton to balance the classes in the game so that there isn’t such a disparity between “the best” and “the worst”. In other words, if you had to classify a ‘build’ as the “best” (let’s call it S Rank) and a class as the “worst” (F Rank) there would be several builds for each class closer to S than F.

That’s a big change from even just two seasons ago. Plenty of builds sucked and would never exceed Greater Rift 100. Totally different now, and instead of having to play a “good build” you can just play what sounds fun to you.

So, for the first time since Diablo 3 launched, I’m playing a Monk.

I was power-leveled to 70 (max level) in about 10 minutes thanks to sitting at the entrance while a friend clears T6 rifts. Now I’m gearing up to find the Sunwuko set so that I can use a Wave of Light build. It seems like the most fun to me. Lots of screen-clearing ability and capable of pushing GR115+, but that like I’ll ever see that. I’ll probably see 70.

Diablo 3 seasons tend to be 1 week endeavors for me. I find lots of gear, clear lots of grifts, and then decide I don’t feel like doing the “grind mobs mindlessly for small upgrades to min/max and optimize gear” game.

This time around, I think I’m going to start coining it the “3-Dayer”. The 3-Dayer actually has much larger application which I’ll post about in the near future.

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Diablo 3 Necromancer & Season 11

I decided to jump back into Diablo 3 again. My main reason for returning is to check out the new Necromancer. I waited until the beginning of Season 11 (just a few days ago) to take the plunge because I like the idea of starting fresh.

Since the Necro is the main reason I’m playing, I want to highlight a few of the things I really like about the class and where the game is at right now.

Necromancer Class Overall

Diablo 3 Necromancer IconThe Necromancer was one of my favorite characters to play in D2. I love pet classes and passives. Although the Necromancer is anything but passive, there’s still a nice element of sitting back and letting your skeletons smash stuff.

Necros use a resource called Essence, which must be harvested from corpses. The essence mechanic isn’t really different than any other expendable resource, but how it’s obtained is really cool.

Corpse Mechanic

When monsters die they leave a corpse that the Necro can utilize in a number of ways. Depending on your build, you might blow those corpses up with a nostalgic Corpse Explosion ability, or you might harvest them for essence.

This makes for a fun and unique mechanic for Necros that no other classes utilize.

Necro Style & Gear

The Necromancer is just perfect for Diablo games. We’re already talking about death, undead, demons, and the Lord of the Underworld here, so a Necromancer simply compliments everything about the game.

Necromancers look awesome. The style of their gear fits right in with the theme — especially Reaper of Souls.

My Necro Season 11 Gearing Up Build

Necromancer Season 11 Gearing Up Build

This is my Season 11 Necro Gearing Up build that I use. It’s really straight forward minion build. The goal is to eventually roll into a very similar build using the Rathma set. I’ll post about that in the coming days.

Key Abilities:

This build uses a builder like Bone Spikes, and uses the standard Skeleton minions. A few key abilities below make up the build’s bread and butter.

Skeletal Mages (Singularity) – 3500% weapon damage for 250 essence. Mages wreck elites and rare mobs. The melt packs like butter too if I have my volatile death curse on a pack. Without these, I find my killing speed is really, really low.

  • Bonus Note: I really recommend a Circle of Nailuj’s Evol to make these work well. This gives you TWO mages for the price of one, meaning you can summon TWO mages that deal 3500% weapon damage. Without the ring I’d probably go Skeleton Archers.

Devour (Cannibalize) – Consumes corpses and restores 10 essence per corpse (and 3% HP with cannibalize). I use this to keep my Essence as high as possible in order to maximize my Skeletal Mages.

Frailty (Volatile Death / Scent of Blood) – Curses enemies in a radius killing them at 15% health. When they die, because of Volatile Death they’ll explode for 100% weapon damage. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but in packs this pretty much clears them all. Scent of Blood is a higher difficulty alternative to increase minion damage.

Leveling Up a Fresh Season Necromancer

Leveling up a new character can be daunting. I’ll be the first to admit that the prospect of 1-70 wreaks of burnout for me.

The trick that I found to level up quickly is doing Bounties. You might be tempted to run Rifts, but I really, really recommend Bounties for two reasons:

  1. Bounties have higher mob density than Rifts. I find that Rifts constantly put me on maps that have fewer mobs (unless you’re lucky to get a certain map). Higher mob density + Leoric’s crown = EXP.
  2. Once you unlock the Cube, Bounties give you the materials you’l’l need for Cube recipes. You can never have enough crafting materials.

D3 General QoL Improvements

One main quality-of-life improvement that stands out right now is the crafting material tab. Instead of this crap filling my inventory or bank, it’s going into a special pocket/tab for materials and all stacking/registering as a number. If they could just do this with gems, that’d be nice.

Season 11 Game Plan

I hit level 70 last night. I can easily clear Master rifts in a timely manner with crap gear, so I think it shouldn’t be hard to grind out my Rathma set.

We all know how this story goes: Play for a few weeks to a month, burn out of killing the same mobs over and over, and wait until another season. But at least this time around there’s a new class!

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Diablo 3 Season 5

Diablo 3 Season 5

Season 5 began on Friday afternoon and I am once again jumping in with my regular group of friends. In typical fashion, I’m either dead last in my ability to pull my own weight, or I am somewhere in the middle and inconsequential. This all boils down to luck + time. I put in less time and have less luck, therefore I have less gear. RNG loot drops and all.

This time around I am playing a Wizard — for the very first time. Luckily, I think I didn’t pick the worst class this season. I have a knack for picking the class that just flounders. I think with some luck I might actually push to a 85+ grift.

A number of changes were introduced this season that have, thus far, made the experience more enjoyable. Everything from supercharging the Grifts as a form of money sink to new items, achievements, class balances, etc. The biggest change for me has been giving away a “free set.”

Free Set

Everyone receives what has essentially become the “free set.” Reach level 70 and you’ll receive 2 pieces of your classes predetermined set. Defeat a boss and then solo a Rank 20 Grift and you will get the other 4.

  • Barbarian: Might of the Earth
  • Crusader: Thorns of the Invoker
  • Demon Hunter: The Shadow’s Mantle
  • Monk: Monkey King’s Garb
  • Witch Doctor: Raiment of the Jade Harvester
  • Wizard: Firebird’s Finery

The free set means you get to jump to T6+ almost instantly whereas, if you’re like me, this process could take any number of hours or days depending on your loot drops. These sets are balanced to be lower tier, yet fun enough to push you into the more difficult and meta game that is the Diablo 3 gear grind.

We’ll see how long I last! Some seasons it’s a week. Others it’s a month or two. I’m in a competition with my group right now to try to see who stays the longest.

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Following up on Blizzcon

I’m slow on the followup this time around! I want to reflect on some of what we saw at Blizzcon as it pertains to my thoughts pre-con.

Legion

So I went with an April prediction just to be extreme and different, admitting in my predictions/wants post itself that I know full and well we won’t see it until August+ because of ‘Overhype’. That came true. No shock at all. Now… wtf to do in WoW until then? I have absolutely no idea. As I speak I’m in the queue for LFR Archimonde. Once I kill him that will mean I have seen everything in WoD. That was my goal. I’m done at this point. Believe it or not, some of the most fun I’ve had is managing my Garrison. I wish it was more like farmville/harvest moon.

Ten (10) months until new content in WoW — Okay, more like 8-9 but that is incredible. I’m pretty much riding out my last 20 days on this sub then calling it there. No reason to keep paying when I have seen EVERYTHING I want to in the game. ::cough:: I don’t really want to keep saying I told you so, but is this not the epitome of winding down WoW to ramp up / hype up their next wave of potentially more profitable/more revenue per player games? Of course it is.

Legion continues to look amazing. Yes, I’m going to buy it. Yes, I’m going to play all of the story and quit when I ultimately run into the same situation I have in WoD. That, ladies and gentlemen, is WoW.

Overwatch

The hype levels are dangerous here. We already call it ‘Overhype’ and people are already saying it’s dangling from the precipice of mediocrity and genericness. I have yet to play it myself, and I withhold the right to pass my own judgment. Overwatch LOOKS fun. I like shooters of this style and calibre. I can’t say this is hte kind of game I’ll play for years, though. Their release date is exactly as I would expect.

Starcraft

What shocked me here was the DLC. I don’t know why I let it come as a surprise that they would go from taking one game, and making three full games out of it, to making mission packs. I probably won’t buy them. To be quite honest, I simply don’t see the value. If I have absolutely NOTHING else to play… I might be tempted. Otherwise, I’m somehow not the market — which really makes no sense because I’m the guy who buys SC to play the single-player…

Hearthstone

Yep.

Heroes of the Storm

I was completely wrong here. HotS was a huge emphasis. Cho’gall seems awesome, albeit a little outrageous. That’s the HotS model, though. “No one else would or could, so we did.” That’s the HotS model. Arena mode reminds me of those gladiator maps from the glorious WC3 custom map days. Those were amazing.

Diablo

Womp womp.

Overall

Blizzard played it very safe. Nothing about bringing back the classic games, and no major surprises or announcements that truly shocked me. Yet, without fail, Blizzard remains stable and proving that they are going to be putting out a heck of a 2016.

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Blizzcon is Upon Us: WoW Legion’s Launch Date, Predictions, et al

Blizzcon’s opening ceremony kicks off in exactly 4 hours from now, and I’m going to squeeze in here and drop a few predictions as well as what I hope to see announced.

World of Warcraft: Legion

First, I have to address the gorilla in the room: Legion’s launch date. Check out the marketing collateral below and pay attention to the fine print at the bottom (click to enlarge):

[su_lightbox type=”image” src=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/wow-legion-perks.jpg” class=”pointer”]wow-legion-perks[/su_lightbox]

Legion will release on or before September 21, 2016. There are a few ways to interpret this information.

  1. The people convinced this is the release date and are cancelling their subscriptions because they won’t do HFC for 10 more months.
  2. The “I knew there was a reason to hide subscription numbers!” group (who likely do not play)
  3. People who look at WoD coming out a month before its drop dead date who now think August is the date.
  4. The people who think this really doesn’t mean a whole lot / will happily play WoD / don’t care.

I personally think this is their drop dead date and that they will release sooner. I’m also pretty sure they’re going to giving Overwatch a very nice window. I’m predicting April 2016. I think that’s a nice 5-6 month window for them to hold a beta and finish up. I’m on the bleeding edge of extremes here, I know. The likely release date probably IS September 2016.

Overwatch

We’ll get a release date. They’ll talk about the cost of the game, some business model plans, etc. Lots, and lots, and lots of hype. The more I think about how badly they want to hype Overwatch, the more I think we’ll see Overwatch in April, and Legion in August-September.

Starcraft

I’m not expecting any announcements for Starcraft’s current projects. I think Legacy of the Void coming out is a big enough deal that they won’t overshadow it with anything else in the SC2 universe. However, I want to see announcements regarding a modernized version of the original Starcraft and Broodwar being brought to the SC2 engine — with multiplayer — by 2017.

Diablo

I’m actually expecting nothing for Diablo except for a similar announcement about Diablo and Diablo 2 (plus expansions, minus Hellfire) being modernized to the D3 engine and coming out as full games — with multiplayer — by 2017 as well.

Classic Games

I’ll continue in the same vein and say that I hope a nice part of the opening ceremony will hype their revival of the ‘classics’ and for them to official come out and state that they are working on these revitalization projects. The job listings are there for these projects already, it’s just time to make it official. I truly hope to see Warcrafts 1-3 being a big part of this project.

Hearthstone

Cards? (And probably a huge emphasis since this game prints money)

Heroes of the Storm

More heroes and stuff. I will be shocked if HotS gets much if any time in the opening ceremony.

Warcraft 4’s Announcement

Yes, I look forward to Warcraft 4’s announcement every single year. I hold my breath, I get disappointed, and I come back next year to do it all again. I really do think they could build off the hype of Legion and a Warcraft 3 revival to announce Warcraft 4 coming in 2018 or something.

Console and Tablet Announcements

We know that Overwatch is coming to consoles. I think this is a big market for them. Now, as far as tablets go, I think we won’t hear a thing. They kept Hearthstone — their juggernaut F2P — completely nonchalant when it came to iOS releases. I doubt we see much pomp and circumstance over tablets.

A Big Year for Blizzard

Blizzard can go big this year in ways they haven’t been able or willing to in the past few years. With Overwatch, classic revivals, and a strong expansion on their list it’s entirely their game to lose right now. This Blizzcon can set the pace for the next three years without even breaking a sweat. Let’s see what happens!

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So Many Games. So Little Time.

I hope you all had a great [Labor Day] Weekend whether you spent it gaming up a storm or spending time with family. I managed to do a little bit of both. My wife and I did the family BBQ thing on Saturday, then went to Disneyland yesterday and managed to get into the park an hour early during their “Magic Hour” that is supposed to be reserved for Disneyland Hotel guests. A sweet elderly cast member let us in saying, “They usually don’t let us do this, but come on in.” We went on 5 rides before the gates opened and the apocalypse was upon us.

In terms of games, I haven’t been in this good of a spot in years. I have this anxious happiness about me now that was previously filled with this “ugh” feeling. The days of having nothing to do are like a distant memory. I now have a massive onset of games that I am trying to wade my way through.

SoraKingdom Hearts -> I’m playing through for my very first time. I probably won’t get to any formal writeup on this, unless enough people express interest, so this is where I’ll deposit some thoughts. KH is hard. Not necessarily in the fighting mechanics or beating bosses — though those can be a challenge — but in the ‘figuring things out’ kind of way. Just finding our where the game wants me to go next requires exploring guessing.

My wife and I are playing through this together, and as huge Disney fans its doesn’t get much better than this for gaming. The story is complex, nonsensical at parts, but slowly coming together. If you like Disney, Square, and a good RPG/adventure game of sorts then give the series a try. Warning: It starts slow.

Some other games I’m playing:

  • Diablo 3 – Currently able to solo T9 GRifts in Season 4 with absolute ease. T10 is doable, but a challenge. I have all of the items I need for my build, and now I’m just trying to get lucky and find better versions of them.
  • Disney Infinity 3.0 – Lots of write-ups coming your way for this one, and a few videos too. I’m even doing some Let’s Plays.
  • Rare Replay – So many games…. so little time.
  • World of Warcraft – I’m level 98 and leveling faster than I would like. I’m still in the 3rd zone and will be 100 long, long before I come even close to being done with quests. Mobs I’m currently fighting at 4-5 levels below me. Having a great time with the story.
  • Mario Maker – Not yet playing but will be in 3 days. Make almost any Mario level, play levels other people make? Oh yeah.

Reviews Coming Soon

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Mario Maker

This might be the first time I have ever had games going on this many consoles and the PC at the same time. #FirstWorldProblems

Lots to come on my experiences. I just have to find time to take a breath and come up for air every once in a while.

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Diablo 3 Season 4 & Patch 2.3

Whew, what a weekend. Season 4 came out Friday night which of course marks my usual seasonal return to the game. I’m playing a Demon Hunter this time around; Actually, this is the first time I have ever in the history of Diablo 3 played a Demon Hunter. Can you believe D3 came out in 2012? Has it really been that long? I was using Windows Vista (remember trying to get it to work on Vista?) and the game was almost complete garbage.

Kanais Cube

Permanently gain abilities stripped from Legendary items.

So much has changed since launch, but the greatest changes to the game, for me anyway, come with the Kanais Cube in patch 2.3.  The Kanais cube is D3’s much improved version of D2’s Horadric Cube. The Kanais Cube (KC) allows you to do several things:

  • Upgrade a rare (yellow) to a legendary or set item. This means you can take a crappy level 70 ring and get a chance at turning it into a best in slot ring, or if you’re like me and can’t get your set items you can toss in a bunch of yellow gloves and hope for the best
  • Re-roll a set item to a different piece in the set (non-ancient). If you’re like me and keep getting shoulders to the same set, just re-roll for a chance at the item you need. Pretty good early on.
  •  Apply item abilities to you permanently. Yep, this is the best feature. Essentially you take an item like a Ring of Royal Grandeur and absorb its power into the Kanais cube allowing you to toggle that ability on you permanently. You can do it to any item you can use in the weapon slot, armor slot, and ring slot. Really awesome and pretty much the crux of patch 2.3.
Kanais Cube Materials

New materials obtainable for Kanais Cube recipes. Find these in Bounty Caches.

Those are just a few of the neat things you can do in the KC. Worth checking out.

New seasons are always a slow roll for me. Some of my friends rush right out of the gate and shoot up to Torment 6-8 on day 2. I seem to take a little longer. There’s a mix of bad luck on drops and not playing for 10 hours straight, but overall I take a little bit longer to find my groove. I definitely think that in Season 4 I’ll go quite a bit further than I have in the past, mainly because I’m liking how the DH plays and how the KC has made getting gear easier.

As for my DH, I’m going for an UE build, aka spamming multishot. it’s a great build for me because I won’t have to work too hard to get the farming results I’m looking for, and I sorta like sitting back and melting everything offscreen. Barbarians and Monks are definitely more powerful this season, but completely opposite of what I’m wanting in terms of playstyle.

If you’re on Battle.net and want to team up for some rifts shoot me a message!

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