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Strategy: Skill Selection

Fortunately we can switch up our skills whenever we want or need to do so. This will allow you to experiment with various skills with no risk or punishment so as to finally select the ones you really want. So what combination of skill types should you want?

In the early game, all monsters are fairly weak and will come at you with great numbers. You are going to want an “Area of Effect” (AoE) type damage skill in order to attack them all at once. Late game, AoEs become very effective at increasing your overall DPS by slowly whittling away at everyone’s life while being able to focus on a single high priority target at the same time.

Single target attack type skills will output the most damage and are therefore very useful for quickly taking out high priority targets. This type of skill will be necessarily in the higher difficulty levels were a group of players will want to focus fire on monsters in order to take them out as fast as possible.

Your main AoE and single target attack are also usually resource dump skills. These are skills that consume your resource, but do not have a cooldown. This allows you to spam these skills so long as you have resources left. Your third offensive skill type could be something powerful with a long cooldown. Its even better if this skill does not use up your resource. This can periodically provide a significant DPS boost in between spamming your primary attacks.

It is generally recommended that you take at least two defensive skills. Which skills to choose will be very dependent on your play style. I like taking a combination of crowd control and damage reduction. If you plan on playing in a group, then defensive skills that will benefit the whole group could prove beneficial.

The final skill slot should be used to cover any weaknesses your character may have. I would normally choose a healing skill if I do not  already have some sort of healing. If not healing, then I would choose something that somehow incapacitates my targets such as a stun.

** I should also note that it is highly recommended to enable “Elective” mode for skill selection. You can do this in the options menu. Elective mode allows you to move your skills to different slots and you aren’t forced to choose a certain type of skill for each slot.

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Strategy: Single Player vs Multiplayer

The difficulty scales based on the number of players in the game. They do this by increasing monster life and damage by a certain percentage for every additional player. The table bellow shows these percent values.

Normal Nightmare Hell Inferno
Life increase per additional player 75% 85% 95% 110%
Damage increase per additional player 0% 5% 10% 15%

As you can see, each additional player in Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulties will lower the monster’s effective life since the added life is less than 100%. This means that a group of players will be able to kill monsters significantly faster than someone doing it solo. This does not hold true for Inferno difficulty. It will actually take longer to kill monsters in Inferno with more players.

So why would you party-up in Inferno difficulty? The monsters’ effective damage is reduced! As long as the damage being done by the monsters is spread more or less evenly across each player’s health pool, then the group will survive significantly longer than a solo player.

In all cases, playing as a cohesive group will increase killing speed, allowing for the most efficient magic finding and XP grinding.

Strategy: Selecting a Weapon Type

One-Handed vs Two-Handed

Using 1Handed versus 2Handed weapon types generally comes down to preference. However, for maximizing character effectiveness, 1Handed options have the highest potential. Achieving high DPS with a 2Handed weapon is a lot easier, but with the right combination of a 1Handed weapon and a +DMG off-hand item, you can actually achieve higher DPS values. A 1Handed weapon will also allow you to carry a shield. A shield will become extremely beneficial to your survivability late game.

I recommend using a 2Handed weapon when synergizing with a skill that inflicts damage on proc iff it procs more often than you can attack. In such a case, your “attack speed” is based on how often it procs and not your weapon type. Choosing a weapon that has the highest damage per strike will then maximize your DPS.

The Barbarian, Monk, and Demon Hunter can all duel wield providing a +15% attack speed bonus (The Demon Hunter’s off-hand quivers provide this same bonus). This is great for maximizing attack speed, but doesn’t significantly raise your DPS. For these classes, a 2Handed weapon is required for strictly maximizing their DPS, but a 1Handed weapon can be used for the additional attributes and protection.

The Wizard and Witch Doctor have off-hand items (orbs and mojos) that directly increase their weapon damage. Having these +DMG modifiers will allow them to have 1Handed weapons that output greater DPS than 2Handed weapons.

Fast Attack vs Hard Hit

Focusing on 1Handed weapons, do you now choose a fast weapon or a slower, harder hitting weapon? The slower weapons have higher DPS and are generally recommended. Finding +APS (attacks per second) gear will also greatly improve these weapons. You generally only choose the faster weapon if your character’s skills rely on procs such as critical hits or other skill specific ones.

Faster weapons can become the best to wield if you find tons of  +DMG gear. I’ve developed an equation that models the relationship between +DMG and +APS for determining whether using a Dagger (fastest weapon) or a Mace (slowest weapon) will output more DPS:

MaceDPS = DaggerDPS when: (+DMG) = 443.33 * (+APS) + 392.5

This means that for the dagger to have greater DPS than the mace, you need an additional 392.5 Damage right off the bat, and another 443.33 Damage per point of +APS. Given the relationship, maximizing DPS is significantly easier by using the mace with +APS gear.

Possible Affixes

You should also take a look at which affixes can appear on a particular type; there may be certain affixes you value more that are more likely to appear on one type than another. The website D3Inferno keeps track of this information.

Of course, the best item to use is always the one you have access to right now, no matter what type it is…

*Item data displayed above are from the official Diablo III game guide website pre-launch. This information is not guaranteed to be up to date.

Strategy: Maximizing Effective Life and Survivability

Your effective life (or EHP) is a measure of your overall survivability by taking into account all sources of damage mitigation. This can be calculated by converting each source of damage mitigation into an average percent damage reduction. This is simple to do for armor, resistances, and dodge. I try to include crowd control effects into this calculation to determine their effectiveness. Blinds and stuns are simple to incorporate based on the percent of time they are active. Effective life can be calculated as:

EHP = Life * (1/(1-TDR))

where TDR is your total damage reduction. To make calculations simpler, each source of damage reduction can be added separately:

EHP = Life * (1/(1-Source1)) * (1/(1-Source2)) * (1/(1-Source3)) * ….

Damage reduction from armor and resistances are calculated as follows:

%DR = ARMOR/(ARMOR + 50 * Mlvl)

%DR = RESISTANCE/(RESISTANCE+ 5 * Mlvl)

where Mlvl is the level of the monster attacking you. Note that each point of strength provides +1 armor, and each point of intelligence provides +0.1 resistance. This means that one point of strength is exactly equal to one point of intelligence with respect to your EHP. One is no more beneficial than the other.

Dexterity will add directly to your chance to dodge. However this relationship is diminishing and has breakpoints. From 0 to 100, each point will add 0.1% chance to dodge. From 101 to 500 dexterity, each additional point will add 0.025% chance to dodge. The full table can be seen below:

Each point of Vitality will add 10HP to your base life.

From analyzing the rate of change of EHP with respect to each of the character attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence, vitality), adding more vitality will generally be the best way to increase your EHP. However, keeping vitality low, and pumping damage reduction will result in your healing abilities being more effective. In general, it is recommended to maximize your primary attribute and vitality.

Strategy: Minimizing Auction House Fees

So how should we go about using the RMAH in order to minimize the fees incurred, thus maximizing potential profit? First you must decide whether to use the RMAH at all:

  • Selling anything for gold will result in a 15% gold fee.
  • Selling commodity items for cash will result in a 15% fee.
  • Selling items for cash has a flat $1.00 fee.

From the above fees, you can see that it makes sense to sell items valued at $6.67 or more for cash, but everything else for gold.

Now when selling an item on the RMAH, should you cash out right away, or send the earnings to your BlizzBucks account? Cashing out incurs a 15% fee. If you simply want to pull money out of the system and maximize profits, then you should transfer your earnings directly to PayPal when making a sale. If you instead want to recycle your earnings to make purchases, then transferring your earnings to your BlizzBucks balance will put off the 15% fee until you cash out later. However, you should note that Blizzard does NOT support transferring BlizzBucks directly to PayPal.

Transferring BlizzBucks to PayPal will require a transaction on RMAH. This can most easily be done by having a friend post a cheap item for a buyout equal to the funds you intend on transferring. Your friend will then receive the funds and can transfer them to you. **Be sure you can trust this friend with your money!! Don’t get scammed!! Also, for the love of god, don’t purchase the wrong cheap item!!

Or you know, just cash out every time and avoid this hassle…

Build: Arcane Blaster

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Build: Battle Mage

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