Author Topic: Breaking Titan Quest AE xMax on all 45 Professions - Hardcore (0 Deaths)  (Read 5505 times)

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Offline gasconron

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Note on Ragnarok Expansion Update: Characters who finished the challenge prior to the Expansion release will be updated on how they perform in the new content under the same xMax rules. This is a Work in Progress (WiP) Guide

Introduction:

Hi guys, gasconron here. I’m an avid RPG game-fan that mostly spent most of my time on Diablo-clone type RPG’s (Hack & Slash ARPG). With that said I now consider Titan Quest, as my number one favorite Diablo Clone surpassing my total play time in Diablo 2 and Sacred 2 (approx ~7,000-9,000 hours (~12 years) pre-anniversary, and close to 2,300+ hours for the AE) both of which I also played extensively over the years. My dedication to the game has been mostly fueled by my participation in the game’s previous official forums; predominantly in the Challenges - section, where avid players of the game test how far they can go in clearing the game with specific handicaps. What I consider to “specialize” in is the xMax Hardcore Challenge.

I would like to share my experiences with you guys in attempting to complete this challenge for every profession. For the most part, newer players can use this as reference to get the Hardcore Achievement for all 3 difficulties, without resorting to using God Tier professions to finish the challenge.

Below are the conditions I set for myself personally, most of which adheres to the original challenge conditions in the original forums:

  • [Completion] - 0 deaths from start to finish playing only in xMax mod on Anniversary Edition.
  • [Completion] - 100% completion including mapping, sidequests, and all secret bosses. Secret Passage is mandatory in Legendary.
  • [Kill Count] - must finish the challenge with at least 150,000 kills; with at least 50k in Legendary, to prevent bloating in Normal where kills are easier (50,000 if pet build).
  • [Non-Purist] - Needless to say I will be twinked and armed to the teeth from the moment I start the challenge (snowball) till I get to fulfill my level requirement to equip my end-game gear.
  • [Multiplayer-LAN] - for playing Hardcore in any Diablo Clone RPG, it’s always tempting to hit that “Esc” or “Space” key, whenever things go south for you. I had this same problem during my early pre-Anniversary challenge attempts, and it kinda made my soul die every time I resorted to doing it. Finishing the challenge, knowing that you resorted to this also doesn’t feel too good inside, so this was my personal solution to this dilemma.
  • [Gear Variety] - I don’t like my all characters using the same gear. Unfortunately, some are just more godly than others. Which is why in my runs, I TRY to vary my choices; usually using less stellar gear on professions I consider God-tier, while I use all the “bling-blings” on professions or build paths I feel is underpowered or has very little synergy. It balances out in the end.
  • [Solo] - This is already a given, it wouldn’t be a challenge if you ask for assistance from a friend to get you out of that zone that you know can get you killed.

Should you attempt to play this challenge as well, I highly suggest to take note of the following:

Defiler Mods are Now Unavailable  -  Back when people played this challenge in pre-Anniversary, it was easier to play untwinked due to the consensus of allowing challengers to tweak their drop settings to a more “reasonable rate” via Defiler. With Chests modded to have 2-3x increased drops and x3-5 increased chance to drop Epic and Legendary, and the ability to filter out broken and white item drops, which indirectly increased the chances of Monster Infrequents. This shaved off 100s if not 1000s of hours worth of farming to build up a reasonably large collection of gear that you can spread out amongst your characters. Unfortunately, the current state of the available Defiler has these mods disabled for Anniversary Edition, which is a shame because there were so many built in mods in Defiler that made gameplay convenient (stacking potions & scrolls, freeze time of day, disable Zeus speech, show damage, show pet damage).
Gear Matters, Have It Ready - If you are an old-time player chances are you already have a large library of gear ready for use. However, if you are a relatively new player it’ll be very hard to play this challenge right off the bat. As with any Diablo Clone RPGs, it will always be a numbers game. Stats especially pertaining to your resists and defenses matter a lot if you are going to play this game hardcore. Given that Stat buffs were globally given to monsters and bosses and resist nerfs were imposed on the player, this becomes even more of an issue. I highly recommend newer players to farm out gear in the pre-anniversary game (where it is easier to gear farm and Defiler is available for drop chance modification) and export their gear.
Patience - You need to have a lot of it. Even the best people die regardless of skill and game knowledge, I have completed this challenge around 17x pre-Anniversary before resetting for Anniversary Edition, but  I tend to die with lower-tier professions and pet builds. I remember dying 6-7 times on Soothsayer before finally clearing the challenge. Losing a character with 4 game time days invested in it already is indeed frustrating, but that never stopped me from trying again.

TQ + Gaming Abbreviation and Terms List
Note: I will be using these terms extensively in this “guide” compilation

Spoiler for Hiden:
TQ Specific:
STR, DEX, INT, HP, MP - Integral primary stats: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Health, Mana
DA, OA - Defensive Ability, Offensive Ability
CtAP - Chance to Avoid Projectile
CtDA - Chance to Dodge Attack
ADCtH - Attack Damage Converted to Health
CtRR / RR / "Shred" - Chance to Reduce Resists
CDR - [Skill] Cooldown Reduction
ECR - Energy Cost Reduction
AE - Anniversary Edition
pre-AE - TQ + IT with community patch 1.17 or later, prior to the Anniversary Edition release.

General Gaming Terms:
Crowd Control (CC) - a way of managing agro focused on the target of the agro, usually disabling the agro’d monsters from inflicting their potential damage output on the agro target.
Cooldown (CD) - time it takes for a certain skill to completely recharge and be usable again
Area of Effect (AoE) - exactly as the name implies, skills that affect a certain area rather than a specific single target selected by the player. Examples in TQ are Eruption and Squall.
Point Blank AoE (PBAoE) - skills that affect a certain area rather than a specific single target originating from the player. Examples in TQ are Distort Reality and Warhorn.
Nuke - usually referring to an AoE skill/spell that deals massive damage, and usually has a relatively long cooldown
Spike - to inflict a large amount of damage within a short period usually in the form of combination attacks and skills with medium/long cooldowns.
Agro -  the act or effectiveness of getting the attention of enemy monsters to focus on the player that initiated the agro.
Kite/Kiting -  method of killing mobs (monsters) by staying at a distance, using ranged attacks, and running whenever the enemy comes near.
Agro Line - the maximum kiting distance limit a monster will travel following the player before it resets back to it’s original position
Offscreen - referring to something that exists and active in game but currently not within the field of vision of the monitor display.
Cheesing - is basically exploiting an unfair mechanic that gives the player an unfair advantage
Best in Slot [BiS] - the best choice gear in a specific equipment slot for a certain profession/build

Terms I Personally Use:
“Cheesing the Agro Line" - A game mechanic where in you kite a specific monster back and forth it’s agro line; taking advantage of its vulnerability when it starts reset back to its original position. Giving the player a few seconds of unchallenged damage output until the monster re-agros on to the player. This is usually repeated indefinitely until the monster is dead.
“Offscreen Nuking/Cheesing” - Using AoE skills with extended durations to do damage to a target currently offscreen but cannot retaliate as the current distance between its position and the player makes it unable to agro on to the player
“Wall Nuking/Cheesing” - Similar concept to Offscreen Nuking, except the monster is able to agro on the player, but cannot retaliate as the nature of his attacks, being melee or projectile, cannot hit the player; as the wall prevents his attacks from connecting. The player on the other hand bypasses the wall with his AoE nuke, cheesing the monster(s) until they die.
Tech/Teching/Rush - Old Warcraft 3 term that refers to foregoing early units to quickly advance through the tree and be able to purchase higher tiered units in a much shorter period in comparison to not teching. In terms of Titan Quest, avoiding purchasing low tier skills and pumping early skill points immediately to the Mastery Bar, in order to get access to higher/highest tiered skill in a certain class.
Synced Attacks - xMax bosses’s particular behavior of syncing their skill usage or spell casts.
“Desyncing Bosses” - agroing all 3 bosses, letting 1 or 2 reset back to their original position, while having 1 or 2 maintain agro on you. This greatly increases the chances of preventing synced attacks.
  • Very useful when fighting a boss with a high damage skill: Barmanu Showers, Yaoguai Dance, Hydra Breaths
  • Very bad for bosses with timed buffs, disables, high sustain damage: Typhon Thorns, Talos AoE Stun, Hades 3rd Form AoE Stun, Hades 2nd Form Homing Blood Pool and Ball of Doom that scatters on impact

Completed Classes:
1. Hardcore Run Class: Conqueror [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg757#msg757
2. Hardcore Run Class: Elementalist [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg759#msg759
3. Hardcore Run Class: Diviner [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg771#msg771
4. Hardcore Run Class: Haruspex [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg772#msg772
5. Hardcore Run Class: Dreamkiller [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg773#msg773
6. Hardcore Run Class: Evoker [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg774#msg774
7. Hardcore Run Class: Soothsayer [Pre-AE:R re-run]
8. Hardcore Run Class: Juggernaut [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg959#msg959
9. Hardcore Run Class: Avenger [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg1531#msg1531
10. Hardcore Run Class: Sage [Pre-AE:R re-run]; [AE:R completed] https://titanquestfans.net/index.php?topic=122.msg3460#msg3460

In Progress Classes:
1. Hardcore Run Class: Paladin [re-run] ~ Legendary Act 3
2. Hardcore Run Class: Thane [re-run] ~ Epic Act 4
3. Hardcore Run Class: Battlemage [re-run] ~ Normal Act 1

Planned Runs:
35 classes to go
« Last Edit: 13 May 2018, 12:30:13 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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Hardcore Run Class: Conqueror

My primary character and flagship profession. It’s easy to build, brain-dead to play, and very strong. A good boss farmer, SP runner or farming anything that is melee-based.

Build Concept & Source of Damage:
- Sword & Board Tank
- Onslaught, Shield Passives, Colossus, Battle Standard, Sapros
Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 5 out of 5; God-Tier (cookie-cutter)
Difficulty Rating:
Early Game (1-45): 3 out of 5 Early Game
Late Game (45-65): 1 out of 5 Late Game
Normal to Legendary Completion: 3 Days, 2 Hours, 11 Minutes
Kills: 93,052 Kills
Level Finished: 65; (150,000 kill requirement finished at level 67)

Class Notes:
  • A Very Low Maintenance Character; the efficiency of the class will scale well off STR and HP.
  • IMHO still is most effective when played 1h+shield
  • 1 of the more tankier classes, 2nd to a melee Templar in terms of Sturdiness and 2nd to melee Champion in terms of HP pool (when following a 2:1:1 distribution STR/DEX/VIT)
  • Recommended to build with High HP, High STR, 1100-1400 DA, Balanced Resists (~50% or more across the board), and it will make this toon very, very, very hard to kill. While this is true for most classes, the class has easy access to high armor rating, high armor absorption and Defensive Skills (Adrenaline, Quick Recovery and Rally), and AoE crowd-control panic button (Warhorn) and 2 massive damage reduction skills: Colossus (+% damage absorption and massive +% HP bonus) and Battle Standard (long duration AoE -% damage received).
  • OA is not a big issue for the class despite being a melee class, I ran mine with a natural ~600 OA buffed by the Warfare passive to ~700. Having Onslaught on your 1-hander, will ensure that your Warfare and Shield passives will clear out hordes of monsters with relatively mediocre OA.
  • I consider Conqueror as one of the highest-tiered profession in the game. Given that any class can become OP with Stellar gear, Conqueror, along with Haruspex, Harbringer, Templar can do relatively well in this challenge without BiS gear.

Personal Challenge Equipment:
Myrmidon's Pendant [main]
Ritual Amulet of Immortality - Tortured Soul (L) w/ Ritual Mod [optional swap]
Hale Ring of Immortality (2) - Dionysus Wineskin (L) w/ Bleed Resist Bonuses
Hallowed (any helm) Legends/Immortality/Mastery - Crystal of Erebus (L) w/ 20% Resist Bonus to All
Legionnaire's Breastplate
Purifying Ismene’s Bracers Alacrity - Pristine Plumage (L) w/ Bleed Resist Bonuses
Resistant/Hale Revenant Greaves of Pegasus -
Sapros the Corruptor (2) - 2 copies for weapon switch
Aionios (main shield)
Any shield -% damage x creature type (switch shield) - situational
Glorybringer (greater artifact)

Equipment Notes:

At first glance, my personal equipment choice is a bit weird, and admittedly this is NOT the BiS gear you would want. You can throw in a mix of powerful 2-affix MIs like Stonebinder Cuffs of Guile and Veteran’s Alcyoneus’ Breastplate to give you a massive stat boost in just 2 items (making your remaining slots more flexible), plus giving you a whooping ~40% Chance to Avoid Projectile (CtAP) to address one of the main weaknesses of the class making your Conqueror more OP. However, in my case, I chose my equipment set-up based on a single factor: eliminates the need to gear swap or re-relic for specific areas/boss fights. Making my choice of gear more of a personal preference for convenience rather than efficiency and necessity.

Myrmiddon’s Pendant gives a massive bonus to a lot of important resists, including secondary and tertiary ones. This item just makes the character balanced as a whole, and since my goal is to avoid any need for gear/artifact swaps or re-relics. This item is best suited to do just that.

2 Hale Rings of Immortality is a no-brainer. As I’ve mentioned, this profession scales well solely of HP and STR. This makes you the tanky destroyer this class was meant to be.

Any Hallowed Helm with a Suffix. Vitality Resist and + Skills which are both good things. However, we want to be able to socket the item for Crystal Erebus w/ the multiple resists bonus. This item along with Aionios and Myrmidon’s Pendant, will take care of the bulk of your resist needs.

Legionaire’s Breastplate is a very solid pick, considering that it’s not too hard to come by. It gives a massive flat DA bonus, +skills, and a generous bonus to your Pierce resist, which is one of the more important stats overall for a Conqueror in xMax (Act 3 Dragonians/Act 4 Machaes); making it an inferior version of  Alcyoneus’ Breastplate, which can roll with an Impenetrable (for 1 piece pierce resist gear) or Veteran’s (DA % bonus) prefix and a Glade (% CtAP) for your suffix.

Ismene’s Bracers is a very easy farm with a relatively decent drop rate. Getting a Purifying one shouldn’t take you ages to farm. The main purpose of this item is to protect your Conqueror from one of the known hardcore challenge enders in the game for melee: Yaoguai. With non maxed bleed resists, even with 60% damage absorption from a maxed colossus + flat damage reduction from Unbroken Fortitude scrolls, 3 Yaoguais stacking that AoE burst will cause that 9-10k HP to melt like cheese in a microwave. My chosen relic + item is will basically make this slot address not only Yaoguai (bleed), but also the Cerberus and Hydra fights, which are similar in nature on non-maxed poison resist toons.

Revenant Greaves’ only purpose is +skills, having foregone SBCs, the +2 skills modifier on your Crystal Erebus, or a +skills amulet like “Sacred”, Bronze Heart of Talos or Aphrodite’s Favor, you need the get those +skills from somewhere. Considering my choice of equipment in other slots, the best roll you can hope for on this item is added resists.

Aionios is the probably one of the notable OP items in Titan Quest pre-Anniversary. Even after the 20% nerf on all resists across the board, I still consider it to be the best shield in the game. You just can’t find another item like it that will give you a massive bonus on multiple stat line. Comparable to Demonskin Walkers for mages and Aphrodite’s Favor as an amulet in general.

Sapros, the Corruptor is still my recommended weapon of choice, regardless of the massive nerf (-25% HP). Since this profession will most likely be built with a massive HP pool. It’s able to take the ~ -25% HP hit. With my gear and all the HP quest rewards, my HP pool is at 10k+ with the debuff active. In exchange for the HP handicap you get a massive Attack Damage Converted to Health % bonus (ADCtH), and FLAT reduction to resists bonus (increases your damage multiplicatively; refer to the official forums for the exact math), both of which are very strong stats to have in general

Glorybringer Artifact is chosen for the creature damage reduction (Undead & Demon):
  • Machae Archers in xMax is not a fun experience. They may deal less physical damage compared to pre-Anniversary due to the fixed STR scaling, but thanks to the new scaling of poison and bleed with DEX, the damage gained pretty much makes up for the one lost; they still hurt like hell.
  • Since 100% completion means going into every dungeon and cave, it means gambling with chance to spawn Toxeus, who incidentally killed 5/7 of my challengers that had the misfortune of meeting him in Legendary pre-Anniversary. It literally takes 1 second to realize you got tombstoned by his non-SP form.The damage reduction will help lessen the chances of getting spiked down before you can react, it will still hurt like hell but I’ll take +% chance to survive of 0 any day.

Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
  • Empusa + Machae [Legendary] - Tread carefully whenever you see a mix of Empusas and Machae. This is lethal for melee toons that have no easy access to CtAP. Soul Empusas will drain your low energy pool fast and when that hits 0 you will be stripped off your buffs. Frozen Empusas will freeze you in place and leave you very vulnerable, while Defense Mastery offers reduced reduction to freeze, 2-3 seconds of being unable to cast anything will leave you dangerously open. Machae archers’ damage output needs no introduction and is one of the most annoying enemies in xMax Hardcore. The worst case scenario is for you to get frozen under an energy drain AoE with Machae archers pelting you. This is the sole reason why I would advise newer players to swap to a Ritual Amulet on top of Glorybringer (for the ~50+% demon damage reduction)
  • Barmanu [Legendary] - Whenever, I enter this boss fight I always use Scale of the Black Dragon for the -25% Beastman damage. When stacked with Colossus’s 60% Damage Absorption (max +4), -% Damage debuff from Battle Standard and ~9-10k HP, you are guaranteed to survive an Ice Shower as long as your Cold Resists are in the positive. However, if you happen to get stunned and take a 3x synced Ice Shower, that’s game over for you; which is why I disengage multiple times upon agro to desync the 3 Barmanus and pick them of 1 by 1. The less showers you have to deal with the better.
  • Yaoguai [Legendary] - Keeping in mind that I chose Ismene’s Bracers over Stonebinder’s Cuffs just shows how much I respect the damage output of this guy. In xMax, I never face tank all 3 at any given point in time. I kite around the ring till I take down at least one. A synced bleed spike will most likely kill you.
  • Typhon [Normal] - Your first test as Conqueror. His showers are lethal, His Life Leech attack on top his sustained damage from his cast spamming of flame breath and lightning bolts will trigger your Critical HP level several times. His thorns do not pose too much of a threat in Normal. Fighting Typhon xMax Normal without cheesing him at ranged + 200 potions is actually difficult especially when untwinked.
  • Polyphemus [Normal] - Very difficult to handle 3 Polys at the level you meet them in. Anything that hits you will do MASSIVE damage. What’s worse is that he has a stun attack that leaves you wide open to lethal attacks. 2 synced wave attacks will come close to killing you, if not outright ending the challenge. xMax Poly is a general problem to most melee Hardcore Challengers without access to ranged spells or some form of Kiting+Damage skill.


Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
  • [Level 1 - Parnasus] The hardest part of this challenge for Conqueror is the Early Stages, primarily before you get access Pulverize. You’re going to have to act out of role early and resort to ranged to pick off mobs. This will be the same with Nasus, Polyphemus and Early Gorgons. I recommend using Snowball as it is highest damage range weapon you’ll have access to Early game. Combine that with 2 Poisonous Rings at Level 8 and you will literally one-shot everything that is not a boss. Very convenient as you will be swarmed in xMax and is very easy to die with such a small HP pool.
  • [Level 13-19; Pre Gorgons] Once you get access to Pulverize, you can level opt level Armor Handling enabling you to wear Epic and even Legendary quality Greens or Yellow Armors that will mitigate most of the early game damage, until you fulfill the requirements to wear your end-game setup. Also put 1-2 points in Colossus to for boss fights. Continue using Snowball, as you are not ready to engage the world with Pulverize alone. Remember that Pulverize has been nerfed, almost 50% damage nerf of its former pre-Anniversary form. It’s damage output early is pathetic, without enough STR and Hamstring debuff from the Warfare tree.
  • [Level 19- 24; Gorgon Grind] Having dealt with your survivability, I highly suggest to grind out your Warfare Mastery. With the mastery giving you much needed STR points and HP, it just improves your character faster. Develop your Onslaught Tree and your Battle Standard and 1 pt on Warhorn.
  • [Level 24-35; Breezing through Act 1-3; Pre-Typhon] Play as is, you should have no problems with anything up until Typhon
  • [Level 35-40; Typhon Farming] You’ll have maxed Pulverize, a fairly developed Onslaught tree, Battle Standard w/ Triumph and some maxed Shield Passives. Ready to take on Typhon on Normal and farm him till you are sick of him, which is basically the first challenging encounter for a Conqueror in xMax Hardcore. Once you get past this point and grinded out Typhon runs, you’ll hit level 45 in no time enabling you to equip most of your gear setup.
  • [Level 45-50; Hades Farming] Farm for XP to hit level 50, this enables you to wear all your equipment and most Divine Artifacts and access to Legendary tiered Scrolls (if you need to use them)
  • [Level 50-60; Epic] Steamroll
  • [Level 60-7x; Legendary] Steamroll... but play with caution.There is no worse feeling than losing a character due to cockiness. Making retarded decisions like running head on and agroing a full screen of Empusas and Machaes only to get snagged by a freeze ball = auto GG.

Performance in Ragnarok:
Level Finished: 85
*Given that this is main xMax farmer and one of my 2 only level 75 toons, Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 84 right of the bat.
Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 2 out of 5

Threats:
- Very few that bothered me. There was only 1 instance where in my HP hit critical level, and that was at the last area of the game where there were packs of Dark Elves. Their damage was off the charts.
- There were a couple of times that my HP reached half-way but this was mostly because I was speed running the content while still exploring, which meant I was taking a lot of unnecessary damage with 0 sustain.
- I have read that there are some very nasty damage reflect critters in Yggdrasil and Valhall, but I didn't really want to test that out firsthand with an actual hardcore toon. I didn't linger much in the area and I just completed the story line.

Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
One of the weaknesses of Conqueror is the lack of CtAP options except on equipment, and while this can be resolved with a large HP pool. This is weakness proves especially true in Ragnarok because there will be swarms of projectiles. I had to stock up on a lot Arrow Dancer scrolls while traversing the lands just to mitigate as much projectile damage intake I was receiving.

Like I mentioned, the Equipment setup I went for is not optimal. However, it's just the most balanced I could get to addressing all resists, while maintaining a huge HP pool. Equipping a Veteran's X of the Glade armor with a x of the Glade gloves  and a Knot of Isis, would probably take it back to Easy Mode. I just had too much pride to resort to doing this, which is why I didn't have as much of an easy time as I would have if I did.

In terms of Boss fights, there was nothing really that hard worth noting. None seem to pose the same 1-shot capability or heavy sustained damage as that of Barmanu, Bull, Hades Ball, Typhon Thorns or even the 3 Mino Lord Bosses had.
« Last Edit: 17 December 2017, 08:33:47 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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Hardcore Run Class: Elementalist

The profession I consider my main alternate. Holds sentimental value to me being the first Squishy toon I managed to complete the challenge with. Also, being the profession considered by many to be low-tier, I was really happy to complete the challenge with this profession.

Build Concept & Source of Damage:
Low Cooldown AoE Mage
Squall, Eruption, Lightning Strike, - resists (flat) sources
Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 3 out of 5; Average
Difficulty Rating:
Early Game (1-45): 1 out of 5 Early Game
Late Game (45-65): 3.5 out of 5 Late Game
Normal to Legendary Finish: 4 Days, 6 Hours, 27 Minutes
Kills: 174,431
Level Finished: 66

Class Notes:
  • The difficulty of the challenge will highly depend on your gear setup: defensive or offensive.
  • Optimal Stat distribution is All-in on INT, but some DEX points can be spared for req requirements, if you are having a hard time meeting the gear reqs.
  • AE Changes definitely buffed the synergy of this class and improved it from being relatively low tier, to somewhat in the middle.
  • Despite being a caster, Elementalist’s tool kit offers so much utility (Stone Form, Soften Metal, Storm Surge) with Debuff Spells mitigating enemies’ damage potential. The class’s survivability shoots up through the roof just by rolling in with a mediocre 900-1,000 DA and positive resists
  • 1st thing to note are the changes on the shield buffs Elementalists have. While their duration has been nerfed to 60 seconds, it gains a much stronger property: %damage absorption. With some point enough investment and a +4 to skills to both shields you can roll around with at least 60% damage absorption to Elemental damage and 15% damage resistance (physical). This equates to the possibility of rolling in Legendary with ~ -10% to 10% Elemental resists with very little consequences, provided you micro the buffs to have it on you permanently.
  • Ranged damage intake, which is the biggest problem in this challenge is nullified by Squall and with capped CDR, you can literally fill the entire screen with it.
  • Early game levelling is hampered from the massive energy degen nerf from Ring of Fire, but with enough +energy regen items to bring it to manageable levels and a steady supply of mana pots. You’ll be levelling much faster compared to most professions.
  • Should you choose to be a scumbag like me, boss fights are a joke with this class. Having both Eruption and Squall as cheesing tools, you can easily exploit Boss AI limitations to kill them off with very little risk.
  • The real challenge in playing a caster Elementalist on xMax hardcore is traversing the land and exploring. Being careless will result in you being rushed down and surrounded by hordes of angry melee waiting to shred you mediocre DA and low HP pool

Personal Challenge Equipment:
Aphrodite’s Favor
Socrates Ring of Immortality (2) - Demon’s Blood w/ Bleed/Stun/Vit resist bonus or Monkey Tricks w/ INT/DA bonus
Archmage Diadem or Coronal of the Abyss
Archmage Mantle or Battlemage Robe
Archmage Clasp
Archmage Leggings or Battlemage Leggings or Demonskin Walkers
Archmage/Socrates Staff of the Magi of Focus (casting staff)
Any (any staff) of Betrayer (auto-attack debuff)
Glorybringer (greater artifact) [main]
Marduk’s Tablet of Destiny [swap] advisable to use for: Minotaur Lord, Hydra, Yaoguai and Barmanu (if you’re not confident with your kiting)

The hardest task for me was not actually running the character but setting it up. The synergy of the 2 masteries coming from buffs and changes from AE make the gameplay of the Elementalist very interesting. However due to the fact that Boss HPs and resists are buffed overall, high damage-spike glass cannon builds are no longer recommended for Hardcore play. The paper toon that relied on stone form and crawled its way to Challenge completion (my pre-anniversary run) is no longer efficient and practical.

The approach I took went 1 step further. My goal was to reduce as much physical damage taken giving me as much freedom to spam my AoE’s without being to trigger happy with Stoneform. You have 2 options:
Archmage Regalia-way (you gain a massive +30% physical resists from your armor, +15% physical resists from the set bonus, + 15% damage resistance from Heat Shield). Given that you have at least 5-6k HP, you become a walking mini core dweller in your own right.
You can go the mixed-way (AM clasp, BM torso/legs and Coronal of the Abyss) to get your DA to a decent 800-1,000 DA, to decrease the chances of being critted to dangerous levels by random mobs, and have a much more balanced stat sheet.

Given that the focus of the setups used is to let the caster stay alive longer, sacrifices were made on DPS department. Following the setup provided, you will only get ~1,100-1,200 INT and rely solely on your masteries for elemental damage modifiers. A method I found to get around this is to take advantage of AoE, Low Cooldowns and the now accessible Betrayer suffix. Alas, this affix is a shadow of it’s former self in the Vanilla days of the game (- resists no longer guaranteed, a much lower flat value, and lost is “Devouring” aspect). You can definitely use Fingerbone of Boreas as another option (for the guaranteed - 35 resists), but with a green item socketed Sheng Nong, you are looking at a possible -53 flat resists, if you stack these with dual Monkey’s and stacking Squalls and a touch of Eruption, even the most hardy of bosses will fall in Legendary with a measly 1,200 INT.

This essentially trades the “fire and forget” aspect of glass cannon builds for the ability to micro safely to maximize your damage output.

Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
  • Minotaur Lord [Legendary] - If you were adventurous enough to attempt this fight without Wall Cheesing, then I both commend you bravery and offer my condolences. Entering that enclosed arena with 3 Minotaur Lords is a death sentence for a caster Elementalist. I have tested this run on a separate test character built as an Elementalist caster and I was able to escape alive 2/25 tries. Why?
    • The Minotaur Lords have massive physical damage output, that increases progressively as they gain Onslaught charges and apply Hamstring debuff on you. Even a “tanky” defensively built Elementalist with 900-1100 DA with get shredded in 4 seconds after face-tanking a single Mino Lord.
    • The slow effect of their attacks prevent you from kiting effectively.
    • They gain Onslaught charges while hacking at you in Stoneform. The moment your Stoneform expires, you will get one-shotted (it actually looks funny).
    • The recharge of your Spellbreaker cannot keep up with the rate of their Onslaught charge build up. Meaning there is no way for you to perma shutdown their buffs buildup.
  • Toxeus, the Murderer (Non-Secret Passage) [Legendary] - without at least 30% or  more damage reduction from Undead, this chance spawn is almost guaranteed to end your hardcore xMax run. The only reason why this monster is not on the top spot is because the chances of you meeting him is actually very slim.Unless you actually intend to farm Labyrinth for Stonebinder gear or Valley of the Kings for Revenant drops. Any caster with no form of undead damage reduction will find themselves tombstoned faster than they can blink.
  • Dragonian Mages [Epic & Legendary] - Avoid offscreen nuking when there are dragonian mages. 2 eruptions on their reflect shield can kill you if your Stoneform is on cooldown. Which is very likely considering than they are accompanied by packs of Lancers and Firetalons who will deal large amounts of sustained damage to you.
  • Elder Centaurs [Legendary] - Apart from being debuffed by Study Prey 24/7 thanks to the Centaur Archers accompanying this guy, They also have Battle Standard increasing their damage output. If you get Warhorned while surrounded by the whole agro, you can kiss your run goodbye.

NOTE: Why not Barmanu?
Legendary Barmanu may have been a problematic boss for Elementalists pre-AE, which most likely was dealt with by offscreen nuking him for 30-40 minutes to avoid agroing him. However, that is no longer the case with the AE changes. Energy Shield is now a timer based skill (60 second duration) and will not expire upon receiving cold damage. Also, Molten Rock is no longer buggy and does not freeze the player upon expiration of Stone Form. Do you get the picture now?
Equip Marduk’s Tablet of Destiny
Cast Energy Shield on yourself with max +4 Reflection
Agro 3 Barmanus
Cast Stoneform with Molten Rock - 8 Seconds
Stand Still till Artifact Skill is triggered - 10 seconds
Cast Stoneform with Molten Rock - 8 seconds

That’s ~26 seconds of continuous invulnerability, more than enough time for 3 Barmanus to one-shot themselves by casting Ice Shower on the player. If this notion sounds retarded to you, you can always go back to 40 minutes of offscreen nuking.

Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
  • [Level 1 - Epic] Snowball your way to Ring of Fire (RoF) with Fire Enchantment. Accumulate enough gold to give yourself a steady supply of HP and Energy pots to help your rush. Pump all to INT to help your damage. Once your RoF starts 1 shotting everything you walk into, start developing your Storm Tree to get Squall. It is no longer practical to rush Eruption as enemies are tougher and hit harder now compared to pre-AE. Squall’s safety and Utility will benefit your rush better. Debuffing enemies before you walk them down with RoF offers more progression clear time gain than depending on Eruption Cheese tactics on boss fights. Just do the usual XP rich farms (Gorgons, Typhon & Hades) in Normal to speed up your steamroll.
  • [Level 50+] equip yourself with 2 Ritual Relics, a Glorybringer and a Sacrificial Amulet and a lot of HP items/relics to offset the HP debuff.. Farm Tower of Judgement and Hades Palace (High density and high XP). This is probably the fastest and safest way to farm with your HC end-game caster Elementalist. Even Dactyls won’t be able to touch your character while you can safely farm for Alcyoneus’, Machae, Keres and Empusa MIs with relative ease.

Performance in Ragnarok:
Level Finished: 77
* Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 75.
Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 5 out of 5

Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
The selling point of the existing Elementalist build was that you could get 1,100-1,300 DA, ~25-30 Physical Resist, a row of mostly positive resists, and around 5,000+ HP. While still retaining +4 skills, 1,200 INT breakpoint and max -CDR%, which pretty much makes you a legitimate nuke mage that can sustain well. This worked well for the most part because mobs pretty much had lower levels resulting in less stats and HP, and would go down easy to a couple of Squalls and an Eruption. This made some of my negative resists manageable for the most part and can be ignored except during boss battles.

However, in Ragnarok, critters are around level 80+, while I pretty much capped the damage output I could produce a while back. As the only way I can increase my damage through my INT, this meant prolonged mob clears, which exposes the Elementalist to more dangers. The most probable solution is to go back to a frailer setup to keep every resist on a positive, by sacrificing some DA. This lessens the life degen impact of having negative poison and bleed resists.

Specific Equipment Changes:
Heka Staff - retains some of the recharge properties of our choice staff, but gives damage reduction to Magical Enemies
Freyja's Panapoly (5/6; all except amulet)

Given that majority of the AE:R Legendaries are very well-rounded in their bonuses. Freyja's Panapoly is really made for mages that aims to do Hardcore Runs. Lot's of Caster bonuses. Massive bonuses to Resistances and flat and % DA. With the new Smithing gimmick it's possible to tank up even the frailest of glass cannons. Although I didn't need to resort to that just shows how much AE:R items impacted heavily on the gameplay.

Threats/Bosses:
- Pretty much everything is a threat to you. The new act is pretty balanced, and by that I mean that there is a healthy mix of mage, archers and melee type enemies. They hit harder, they swarm in packs and they die a lot slower compared to the pre-Ragnarok update.
- Giants pack a HEAVY punch, but they are flipping slow. There is no reason why you should be getting hit by them except in rooms and narrow passages. When this is the case, put a squall on top of you to minimize their damage output, followed by an eruption, while you stone form.
- Tread very carefully when you explore. The biggest enemy to Elementalist hardcore gameplay is yourself. One distraction is all it takes to end your run. I play with 1 finger permanently on standby to hit that Stoneform when needed. If you plan to take on the HC challenge with an Elementalist, tanky or not, this is a very good practice have.
- Majority of the Boss Fights are a non-issue. All boss fights are "cheesable." You can render a lot of these bosses harmless by keeping their energy drained with Spellbreaker. While some bosses retain their special attacks even with all of their energy drained, some are rendered helpless and you can face tank them. Last Boss fight (Sutr) is the most anti-climactic fight you'll ever do. 2nd Form becomes a joke with Squall.

Loki Boss Fight
This is possibly the most fun and at the same time most dangerous encounter you will face in the entire act. This is a guaranteed enclosed arena fight. Thankfully, you have a lot of space to work with.

Assuming that my assumptions are correct, Loki's 2 Forms are as a Corsair/Warden and as a Warlock. Since his forms are as a Giant and as a Diety, there will be no  damage reduction sources available. This means you need a decent DA not to get and critted.

Avoid getting hit by his 1st Form's Charge attack. he usually combo's this with an auto attack that chunks you life to half. Getting hit by his charge will guarantee the followup. The worst case scenario is that you get sync'd or chain combo'd in place, which will get you to critical if not kill you outright. Kite him around the arena while leaving Squall on your trail. Don't forget to Spellbreak him form time to time to keep his mana low and his attack options limited. The animations/overall AI of bosses in general become very predictable when their energy is drained. Use this to your advantage.

Once you get Loki to his 2nd form, the fight is pretty much over, with him relying mostly on Ternion and other projectile attacks, you can shut him down with perma Squall while draining his energy to 0. Then from there, it's all routine work.
« Last Edit: 23 March 2018, 04:10:55 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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Hardcore Run Class: Diviner

Build Concept & Source of Damage:
Vita-Ternion Spammer w/ CC [caster]
Ternion , Distort Reality, Distortion Wave, Trance of Wrath, Pets, Massive Vita Resist Reduction
Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 4 out of 5; Very Strong
Difficulty Rating:
Early Game till Late(1-7x): 2.5 out of 5 Early Game
Normal to Legendary Finish: 2 Days, 23 Hours, 41 Minutes
Kills: 150,213
Level Finished: 64

Class Notes:
  • I highly advise to reach the minimal INT breakpoint of 800; like the old Ternion+Harrowing Diviner, this class does not require high levels of INT to be effective. The rest of your stat focus should be diverted to upping your DA, HP and resists. Dumping future attribute points into DEX or HP might not be a bad call.
  • While most consider caster Diviners as heavily nerfed due to the universal life reduction resist buffs on bosses. It can still function with relative ease using Vita damage staffs  due to it's class's tool kit.
  • Early game levelling is still fast due to Dream being very strong. With the right twinking items, you should be able to up your Electric Burn damage to levels when you can walk + one-shot through packs with Trance of Wrath (ToW) on. Nerf on Electric Burn Damage (EBD) starts to kick in around late Normal Act 4, but by then you should be at a level were in your speed clear is no longer dependent on ToW
  • There is very little threat to you in exploration, you just need to control the amount of range enemies your are engaging. Since this build abuses the mechanic of ADCtH combo'd with Ternion, he can tank melee packs for days...

Personal Challenge Equipment:
Essence of Styx
Socrates Ring of Immortality - Demon’s Blood w/ Bleed/Stun/Vit resist bonus or Monkey Tricks w/ INT/DA bonus
Star of Elysium
Hallowed any helm of Immortality/Mastery/Divination - Cunning of Odyseus w/ INT bonus
Overlord's Vestment
Battlemage Greaves
Impenetrable/Resistant Witch Doctor's Bracelet of Alacrity - Boar Hide w/ Bleed Resist bonus
Praxidikae or Socrates any vita-dmg staff of the Betrayer - Anubis Wrath w/ Attack Speed bonus / Energy Leech bonus.
Knot of Isis [mob clear]
Marduk's Tablet of Destiny [boss fight]

Hardly anything to explain in terms of gear choice. Staff of choice is Vitality damage based and it's synergy with the class's innate RR shred abilities will carry it throughout the game. Everything else is focused on making the toon sturdy enough to sustain any burst damage and sustain effectively with ADCtH + Ternion.

There is  very little emphasis on Electric Burn Damage as, most of the active skills in the Dream tree in late stages of the game will serve as crowd control rather than actual damage sources.

Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
  • Minotaur Lord [Legendary] - Facing this caster killer inside the arena leaves you no choice but to rely on Marduk's Tablet of Destiny. But that 10 secs of invulnerability is all you need to spike down all 2 Mino Lords, if not all 3. Using Dark Covenant and Circle of Power to Up your your Ternion damage. At point blank range they will be taking massive damage.
  • Barmanu [Legendary] - Do not go in. Use your pet's to agro the Yeti 1 by 1 near the arena's agro-line close you. Since he will most likely burn his ice shower on your pet, you can spike down the Barmanu that is agro'd on to your pet (nightmare; he has CtAP) when he reaches you with relative safety. I personally think Marduk's Tablet of Destiny is not necessary here, but it's good to have as a safety net.

Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
  • [Level 1 - 10] Snowball your way to Sparta. Farm Nessus to develop your Distortion Wave. These 2 damage sources will get you through most things until end of Act 1.
  • [Level 10-24] tech your way to Trance of Wrath and Distort Reality (respec out of DW) and farm the Gorgons until XP gains start becoming insignificant. By then these 2 skills will be developed and will serve to be your primary wave clear and boss killing skill.
  • [Level 24-45] By equipping a low level armor from Epic or even Legendary using Captain's Signet(s) and boosting your STR through relics, just steamroll your way to Hade's Palace. Any available equipment slots should be dedicated in boosting your EBD
  • [Level 45-50]Farm Normal Hades for XP
  • [Level 50+] Start building towards intended Ternion Spam; as this is a Spirit-based class, I would recommend to XP/Kill farm areas with high density of Undead. I would suggest Revnant areas in Act 2 or Lich areas in Wusao Mountain in Act 3. If you're going to farm XP might as well do it in an area where you can get good stuff from.

Performance in Ragnarok:
Level Finished: 76
* Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 73.
Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 2 out of 5 (with Equipment switch), 4 out of 5 (if no changes)

Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
No significant changes were made to gameplay and tactics. The concept of the build remains the same: spam Ternion until nothing is left standing.
ToC can be dropped in favor of ToW for more RR shred. The new equipment setup makes this possible.

Specific Equipment Changes:
Hallowed any helm of Immortality/Mastery/Divination - Crystal of Erebus w/ +skills bonus
Glykon Acolyte's Robe - gain more EBD, Vita damage, more CtAP (combined with Knot of Isis and Passive = ~60%);

Minor changes were made in the equipment but this transformed the class from Good to Godly; making it a mage steamroller. This class initially had great sustain already. With a respectable DPS, insane HP management (ADCtH + Ternion) and a relatively high mage DA ~1000+; granting it 60% CTAP on top of those stats kills the only weakness the class has: ranged damage, which AE:R has boat-loads of. Simply popping a scroll of Unbroken Fortitude or Arrow Dancer will negate any probability of HP spikes in-game.

Threats/Bosses:
- I don't see any viable threats to a Ternion Diviner in AE:R
- Even challenging areas like Gladsheim and Land's End can become worry free due to how the areas are structured.
- With a competent pet at your disposal you can minimize the risk to you even further, and being that you have one of the best pets in game that doesn't need to be in melee range you can easily pull mobs into choke points; balling them up and setting them up for a Ternion nuke.
« Last Edit: 20 March 2018, 07:17:36 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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Hardcore Run Class: Haruspex

This class needs no introduction to Hardcore runs. It is probably the most OP class in the game. I don't even know why I'm making this passage for this class.

Build Concept & Source of Damage:
- Bow/Spear-spex
- Ranged and Melee
Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 5 out of 5; God-Tier (cookie-cutter)
Difficulty Rating:
"What's difficult?"
Normal to Legendary Finish: I don't even remember, didn't log the details (that's how disinterested I was in running this guy)
Kills: 150,000
Level Finished: 63

Class Notes:
  • Despite not being able to be Immortal anymore (AE cap changes to CtAP and CtDA), this doesn't change the fact that this class has so much survivability and damage with very little effort.
  • I did a 2:1 DEX/STR stat distribution, but a 2/1/1 DEX/STR/HP can work as well
  • With it's class skill passives and actives you get to:
    • massive DA bonuses
    • decent OA bonuses
    • massive CtAP bonuses
    • High Poison Resist
    • Damage Reduction Buff and a Damage Reduction proc with low CD
    • Very Potent Debuff
    • High Spike Melee Skill
    • Potent Sustain Melee Skill
    • AoE ranged clear
  • Early game levelling is still fast due to Dream being very strong. With the right twinking items, you should be able to up your Electric Burn damage to levels when you can walk + one-shot through packs with Trance of Wrath (ToW) on. Nerf on Electric Burn Damage (EBD) starts to kick in around late Normal Act 4, but by then you should be at a level were in your speed clear is no longer dependent on ToW
  • There is very little threat to you in in-game; you actually have to try to die to actually die or just be retarded and randomly fire your bow with Scattershot in areas with Dragonian Mages
  • Unless you are a complete beginner or playing a Bleeder/EBD Haruspex; you shouldn't touch this class. If you did, shame on you...
  • Yes, I am partial to my Conqueror, and the only reason why I can't claim it's the best class is because this abomination exists  :P

Personal Challenge Equipment:
Persephone's Ring
Apollo's Will
Myrmiddon's Pendant
Hallowed Stonebinder Crown Immortality/Legends - Crystal of Erebus w/ +2 Skills bonus
Veteran's Batrachos Plate of the Glade Incarnation of Heracles w/ STR Bonus
Gauntlets of the Necrolord
Athena's Battle Greaves
Bramblewood Bow of Alacrity
Glorybringer - Health Bonus

Armor - No deep meaning in my choice any MI armor that give massive bonus to DA/Resist would do; since this is an OP class the equipment choices is flexible in General. Veteran's/Glade is a staple on pre-Anniversary "Immortal" characters; and still is on the traditional Spear/Bow-spex. In my case, my choice was to address my pierce resist and cap my CtaP

Gloves - This should be where you x Stonebinder Cuffs of Alacrity should go, but because I don't like using the same equipment on several toons, I usually handicap OP classes with less traditional items.

Helm - Due to the loss of an SBC I had to makeup for the +skills. Any Hallowed Helm would do, but Stonebinder's is an easy farm. It comes with a poison resist bonus and because it's such a common farm landing a Hallowed isn't much of a problem.

Rings - This is where your traditional 2x Apollo's should go. But because this class is no longer 100% CtAP & CtDA. Persophone's Ring was taken for safety.

Amulet - This is where PIR should go, but then again, I didn't deem it necessary.

Boots - I just put here any item that filled in the resist I was lacking.

Weapon of choice - Bramblewood Bow is a staple of most non elemental archers. Sometimes it's even taken by other classes as a means to debuff targets for it's RR proc. In my case I took an alclarity one because I didn't use an alclarity SBC

Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
  • Dragonian Mages [Legendary] - As with any Hunting class, don't be careless shooting your arrows around in forest areas with Dragonians. 1 Scattershot reflect will kill you
  • Luck  :P [Legendary] - This isn't a specific enemy rather the chance to spawn High Reflect items on random mobs. Like Dragonian Mages a scattershot on a reflect proc will most likely kill you.
  • Yourself  :P [Legendary] - This isn't a specific enemy rather a player's tendency to do stupid things when playing boring characters. I learned a few lessons on this myself so I highly suggest you don't do things intentionally that might get you killed.

Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
  • [Level 1 - 10] Snowball your way to Sparta. Farm Nessus to develop your Distortion Wave. These 2 damage sources will get you through most things until end of Act 1.
  • [Level 10-24] tech your way to Trance of Wrath and Distort Reality (respec out of DW) and farm the Gorgons until XP gains start becoming insignificant. By then these 2 skills will be developed and will serve to be your primary wave clear and boss killing skill.
  • [Level 24-45] By equipping a low level armor from Epic or even Legendary using Captain's Signet(s) and boosting your STR through relics, just steamroll your way to Hade's Palace. Any available equipment slots should be dedicated in boosting your EBD
  • [Level 45-50] Respec out of ToW/EBD rush to the traditional Hunting setup; farm Hades for XP and Overlord.
  • [Level 50+] Due to this class's durability, clear speed and boss killing ability, this character is adept in farming any non-undead or construct boss or mobs. Use this opportunity to level up and collect gear for your other toons at the same time. There are a variety of farms you do, but my favorite for Hunting-based toons are:
  • Batrachos Gear
  • Sstheno's, Stonebinder's & Sentinel Gear
  • Folgs/Gogs/Lar
  • Sabretooths, Prowler's Gear & Bai Hu

Performance in Ragnarok:
Level Finished: 85
* Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 84.
Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 1 out of 5

Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
With this build's focus being on max dodge, max CtAP, 1-shot lethal strikes/phantom strikes and good mob clear. The supremacy of Immortal-spex has not waned a bit even with AE:R.

Note that I put on non-optimal gear just to get the breakpoints needed and resists on positives and some boost to HP. The kit just has too much survivability and damage.
There was nothing the new content could offer that actually phase the class. Majority of the threats in AE:R comes from ranged damage, and with a 80% CtAP, a decent HP pool and positive resists, your attacks will just offset the damage by healing it back up with ADCtH.

Specific Equipment Changes:
No changes to equipment necessary.

Threats/Bosses:
- Threat? What threat?[/list]
« Last Edit: 19 March 2018, 08:03:45 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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Hardcore Run Class: Dreamkiller

When played normally, this class can be a strong melee character that has access to HIGH one-hit kill skill. When used in congruence with a sword or spear combined, with Dream Mastery's defensive options as well as it synergy with Rogue mastery in crowd controlling packs of mobs, this class is no slouch when it comes to Hardcore challenges and is definitely a viable pick. However, I chose to play as a DoT toon, using mainly poison. I was inspired to build this back in TQ:IT, when the general consensus was that poison sucked. Of course, since I was out to prove that everything and anything can work in this game, what better way to prove it than running it Hardcore on xMax.

Build Concept & Source of Damage:
- Poisonmancer, DoT melee w/ CC (lot's of it)
- Lethal Strike, Phantasmal Strike
Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 2.5 out of 5; viable
Difficulty Rating:
Early Game (1-50): 1 out of 5 Early Game
Late Game (50-65): 4 out of 5 Late Game
Normal to Legendary Finish: 4 days, 8 hours, 51 minutes
Kills: 150,354
Level Finished: 66

Class Notes:
  • You are a Crowd Control God. Has very strong kiting tools, allowing for you to minimize incoming threats/damage. In my case, I used this strength to synergize with the fact that my damage is dependent on DoT. CC'ing enemies who have degening life bars.
  • Being a Rouge based profession, you can optimize your damage by going Sword or Spear. Thus, you should be looking in 2:1 DEX/STR stat distribution. This benefits you overall by giving you higher OA and DA ratings, as well as increased Pierce and poison damage.
  • Like most Dream based professions, you will start out strong and have fast character progression. For the Poisonmancer build I used though, since no points are allocated to INT you will lose speedclear momentum by Act 3. From there you can re-focus to poison based damage and stack it with ToW damage.
  • While most people would opt to go for a Brigand when doing a DoT Poisonmancer to stack Bleed and Poison and fully take advantage of the massive DoT bonuses and modifiers, I picked Dream as a supplementary class for the survivability it provides with its defensive passives and crowd control abilities. The class also has a built in RR shred in his skill kit via ToW. Applying this debuff before applying the massive poison damage you have ensures your enemies won't be having a good day.

Personal Challenge Equipment
Aphrodite's Favor
Hale Ring of Supremacy - Monkey Trick w/ DA bonus
Hale Ring of Immortality - Demon's Blood w/ Vitality Resist bonus
Hallowed Any Helm of Legends - Crystal of Erebus w/ Resist All bonus
Armor of the Phantom
Defiled Ismene's Bracer's of the Glade - Boar Hide w/ Bleed Resist bonus
Defiled Gogs of Any - Hermes Sandal w/ DA bonus
Zeno's Third Paradox (2)
Lethal Deathweaver's Legtip of the Betrayer or Sapros the Corruptor (debuff weapon)
Lethal Deathweaver's Legtip of Devouring (main weapon)
Star of Ishtar - w/ Dex bonus

All of your combined gear aims to fulfill the following goals:
  • Enhance your total Poison damage output
  • Increase your base DEX to the point wherein OA and DA become a non-issue
  • Have relatively high CtAP

Since the only difference between you and a normal melee DPS character is the way you do damage. Survivability is a must. This means positive resists, high DA a decent HP and some form of CtAP. Defiled Ismene's Bracers and Gogs are a must. These, not only boost your base stats and resists, but they also increase you overall damage.

Lethal Deathweaver's Legtip SHOULD be your only option as a poison melee. It boasts the highest flat poison base damage weapon in-game available, and is further amplified when you relic it with a Sheng-Nong's for more flat poison damage.

Now that it is possible to get "Betrayer" suffix from AE, you should be should be looking for a Lethal Deathweaver's Legtip of the Betrayer as your primary choice of weapon. A Devouring one is also a good choice for sustain, but best if you have both. So you have a debuff setup and a sustain weapon switch. A Sapros can also be used as a Debuff weapon, but I do not advice to use one. From the setup used, you will most likely end up with only 5.5-6k HP. With the -20+% HP debuff on Sapros, your HP pool will take a massive hit. Something I do not advice on a melee toon on AE xMax.

Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
  • Dragon Liche [Epic & Legendary] - You are a melee toon that is dependent on Pierce and Poison damage, both of he is highly resistant/immune to. No amount of debuffing can undo his high resistance, which means you will spend a long time whacking it's HP bar away with pitiful damage. This exposes you to the danger of getting caught into one of its freeze attacks, which sets you up to a lethal sync'd Vitality Decay (puke attack) even at maxed Vitality resists. Learn the animations and approach fight with caution. In most cases, I would even suggest swapping to a Bramblewood bow and kiting it one by one.
  • Undead Typhon [Legendary] - Same as the previous threat, Undead Typhon is highly resistant/immune to poison and pierce. No amount of debuffing can undo his high resistance, which means you will spend a long time whacking it's HP bar away with pitiful damage. While his attacks are exactly deadly, the problem with this fight is that you are tapped inside an arena, and he can catch you with a trap that will leave you open to sync'd spike attacks. While this should not be lethal, the stacked attacks will chunk your health a lot. This makes planning your attack intervals more difficult.
  • Talos [Legendary] - If you haven't noticed from the previous trends, Talos is also highly resistant/immune to poison and pierce. No amount of debuffing can undo his high resistance, which means you will spend a long time whacking it's HP bar away with pitiful damage. Most of his attacks shouldn't dent you. But his electric ground stomp will hit very hard, try not to get sync'd and keep moving at all times. Finish the mobs with him, so the encounter's sustained damage potential is lessened. Less threats to you the better.
  • Barmanu [Epic & Legendary] -  While you can literally one shot the guy with Lethal Strike after debuffing him with a couple of auto-attacks, the same can be said for him to you. Since there are 3 Barmanu's you will have to do a Lethal Strike cycle three times. Marduk Tablet will not be available for you to use as your equipment setup was not designed for swaps. It is very important to bait the shout (stun) before engaging. This can be done by moving in a circular pattern around him when he agros on to you. Once they throw out a synced' shout you can perform you LS loop, run back out from aggro range and wait for your first target to degen out. Rinse and repeat. Let me make this clear, you get caught by a shout, and you die... period...
Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
[Level 1 - 10] Snowball your way to Sparta. Farm Nessus to develop your Distortion Wave. These 2 damage sources will get you through most things until end of Act 1.
[Level 10-24] tech your way to Trance of Wrath and Distort Reality (respec out of DW) and farm the Gorgons until XP gains start becoming insignificant. By then these 2 skills will be developed and will serve to be your primary wave clear and boss killing skill.
[Level 24-35] By equipping a low level armor from Epic or even Legendary using Captain's Signet(s) and boosting your STR through relics, just steamroll your way to Typhon. Any available equipment slots should be dedicated in boosting your EBD
[Level 35-50] Respec out of ToW/EBD rush to an early melee poisonmancer setup; farm high XP bosses to gain the levels you need to equip your end-game Equipment. Typhon till 40 and Hades from 45-46 till 50.
[Level 50+] Play as intended.

Performance in Ragnarok:
Level Finished: 76
* Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 74.
Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 3 out of 5

Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
Surprisingly not too many changes are needed for this build to excel in AE:R. With the 11 levels jump, that the class got for the transition we got 33 free skill points in return making this build a lot more flexible. You can make a decent investments into knives that will allow you to have some degree of AoE poison to soften out mobs if not outright kill them. This also means you now have:
- AoE fumble & confuse (knives+mandrake)
- AoE Sleep
- Flashbang
- AoE Stun (Distort Reality)
- Slow (Distortion Wave)

Ther is no way you should be overwhelmed at any given time with all the crowd control you have at your disposal. With Phantom Strike having Invulnerability animations and Aggro reset properties, you can use it as a repositioning tool to put yourself in a more favorable location as long as there's an enemy to teleport to. Majority of the new enemies are "fleshies" and very susceptible to poison, use this to your advantage to clean house.

Specific Equipment Changes:
Bronze Heart of Talos - lose +1 skills, and elemental/poison/pierce resist but get a whooping +40% HP and +20% DA
Guantlets of the Necrolord - replaces the lost +1 skills; Poison Resist and Vitality Resist lost from removing Hallowed Helm and Defiled Equipment are compensated by this switch
Volund's Masterpiece - retains +1 skills, replaces massive loss in Elemental resist
Trollwrestler Greaves - replaces the massive loss in Bleed Resist coming from Ismene's Bracers, and boosts Pierce Resists.
Winds of Asphodel - Drop the Deathweaver's Legtip of the Betrayer; this is now your debuff weapon -50 flat resists with a decent poison bonus. A ranged Sapros that doesn't debuff your max HP. The overall damage input increase now lessens the need for Defiled items. The +33% bonus you get will become insignificant when their target's resists are debuffed to this extent. There is very little need for this item in generic mob cleaning, it just helps you kill bosses a lot much faster.

* With these changes the overall build is no longer dependent on affix-specific MI to be effective. This is not a AE:R specific change, you can simply replace the existing gear with the following and still be able to play this concept effectively. Note that, while Winds of Asphodel now increases your damage output much more, do not expect boss fights against Undead and Constructs to be any easier. Even pre-AE Talos, Undead Typhon & Dragon Lich with Sapros debuffing was horrendous, don't expect it to be any different with Winds.

Threats/Bosses:
  • Gladsheim & Vallhol - Imagine the Athenian Warcamps in Act 1, except this time the critter actually produce notable damage to you. The density of projectiles flying in your face is insane. Use your experience in Normal and Epic to get familiar with the map. Do not clean out completely, leave stragglers so you have safety points to phantom strike to in case you need to retreat. Cycle your crowd control and have at least 1 active at any given time, do not chain them unnecessarily. If there is a place in the game where you need CC badly. THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED IT
  • Jotun Champions - They are not exactly threatening, but in xMax conditions these Frost Giants appear in packs of 6-7, along with their merry Jotun friends. At melee range, they have the capability of stun locking you to oblivion while the Jotuns pound you to pieces. Since this toon is melee, it is also exposed to that hazard. Make sure to put some investment on Freeze resist,
     freeze lock deaths are a terrible way to go.
  • Dark Elves - without demon/magical damage reduction this will might as well be on every toon's list. Since I did not equip a Glorybringer, this toon will have a hard time in Land's End. The only reason why I put them on number two below Gladsheim is because, Land's End is a relatively short segment in the game.
« Last Edit: 23 March 2018, 04:38:52 by gasconron »

Offline gasconron

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    Hardcore Run Class: Evoker

    The perfect class to build an auramancer on. Has a very strong early game and has a serviceable enough performance in the late-game. If you are fine with this power curve or simply looking for a profession that can blitz through the game and reach Legendary really fast, This profession is for you.

    Build Concept & Source of Damage:
    Auramancer + Melee
    Trance of Wrath, Ring of Fire, Eruption, Distort Reality
    Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 3.5 out of 5; Decent
    Difficulty Rating:
    Early Game (1-55): 1 out of 5 Early Game
    Late Game (60-67): 3 out of 5 Late Game
    Normal to Legendary Finish: 3 days, 4 hours, 3 minutes
    Level Finished: 67

    Class Notes:
    • I am aware you can play this class as a pretty strong caster, Dream and Earth damage are quite potent and given safety options given by both trees, I have no doubts it would have an easier time completing the game. However, majority of the points that will be discussed here are assuming that you will be playing with auras as your main focus.
    • You can play this build either as INT based or STR/DEX based. High damage auramancers are all well and good but they are not too fun to play if they can’t survive long enough to do damage ticks. If you aim to play HC using one you’ll have little choice but go the survivability route.
    • Since you will be killing anything and everything on sight, it’s only natural that you will be overleveled. Do not be careless with your stat allocation points. Treat this how you would treat a melee-mage hybrid. Plan your stat distribution according to your end-game gear choice. It’s always better to allocate your stats first to address your end-gear requirements, then up your damage from there. Last thing you’d want is that you reach level 60 and you don’t have enough STR or DEX to equip 2-3 pieces of your planned gear and end up  XP farming Legendary with levelling gear on.
    • When you go STR/DEX do not treat this class as a pure melee build. You only need enough to equip high AR and DA armor. Use your INT as a dump stat once you are able to equip your end-game gear, have ~1,000+ DA and around 5.5-6k HP. Ideally you’d want your auras, spells and melee damage to be potent enough to be considered significant. In a sense using this approach make you a true melee hybrid.
    • Once you hit Legendary, you are gonna notice a huge fall-off on your clear speed and killing ability. This means long boss fights at close proximities. Be knowledgeable of boss AI, know their tendencies and animations. This is what Normal and Epic boss farming is for.
    • Keep a lot of Scrolls of Crushing Vortex/Unbroken Fortitude/Maddened God in stock. They compliment your gameplay very well, and it doesn't hurt to pop one during a tough boss fights depending on the situation.
    • Always good to have a Core Dweller (non-maxed/developed) and Nightmare handy... Majority of the major boss fights in Legendary is a battle of attrition. Since you are doing damage even while kiting, it's not as bad as having long fights with toons that need to stop and attack/cast. Because CD has provoke, it's a good way to Desync a lot of the bosses to get one off you and lessen your sustained damage intake, especially when kiting.
    • Have Trance of Wrath (ToW) and Trance of Convalence (ToC) available. At Legendary you will be switching between Aura regularly. While you have sustained damage in the form of Ring of Flame + ToW, there are encounters that you have to prioritize survivability vs. damage. To make up for the lost DPS, you wait for Eruption and Phantom Strike to recharge, activate ToW to RR debuff your target, cast Eruption on his feet execute Phantom Strike and swap back to ToC.

    Personal Challenge Equipment
    Amulet of Morpheus
    Eye of Reveries (main)
    Socrates/Ritual Amulet of Supremacy - Tortured Soul w/ ritual bonus (situational)
    Socrates Ring of Erudition - Demon's Blood w/ vitality resist bonus
    Visor of the Shadowlord
    Hale Myrmidon's Chitin of the Gods/Immortality - Iron Will of Ajax w/ HP bonus
    Gauntlets of the Necrolord
    Demonskin Walkers
    Scepter of the Shadow King
    Aionios
    Glorybringer - HP bonus

    There isn't really any need to discuss each equipment piece separately, as they revolve around giving massive +stats%, + resists% and + skills.
    This setup gives so much survivability and bonus stats which allows us to get 500-600 STR, 800 INT, 1,100-1,300 DA, capped resists in legendary and almost 6k HP.
    It also enables us to have access to:
    • maxed RoF tree
    • maxed ToW
    • maxed ToC
    • maxed Eruption
    • maxed Phantom Strike tree
    • maxed Psionic Touch tree
    • maxed Passives
    • potent Distortion Wave
    • potent Sands of Sleep
    • developed Nightmare pet
    • semi-developed Core Dweller
    • decent Heat Shield

    Making you a very well-rounded character overall.

    Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
    • Minotaur Lord [Legendary] - This fight can turn out as the hardest and most dangerous boss fight in the game, or it can be the easiest one. I won't lie, there is no other way around equipping beastmen damage reduction gear to mitigate damage. Either swap out for Odysseus Armor or Scale of the Black Dragon (shield)  . I normally don't go for more than 50% reduction unless I'm farming (due to pride issues), but feel free to stack them if you wish. Reducing the damage done to you will enable you to outsustain the Minotaur Lords. Relying solely on Unbroken Fortitude Scrolls will not suffice. No damage reduction %, you die... plain and simple. You can do the Wall Cheese tactics as well by pulling the Mino Lords through pets and sealing the doors shut on them, but since this build was made without CDR in mind, it will take a while.
    • Toxeus, the Murderer (Spawn and SP version) [Legendary] - He can't really burst you down if you go STR/DEX auramancer with my equipment setup, but the nature of your damage is the reason why it makes this fight difficult. Reflected damage isn't enough to be a threat to you (since majority of your damage can't one-shot you, but long drawn out fights with Toxeus isn't really ideal unless you have stack -% undead damage. He has a skill kit that packs a punch and he seems to be able to crit often, add that to the continuous reflected damage from your auras and it will add up. He will outlast you.
    • Hades [Legendary] - All 3 forms pose significant threats to you. On his 1st & 2nd Form, a synchronized scythe sweep from all 3 will kill you without ToC + Unbroken Fortitude. On his 3rd form, a Nova chain stun is a death sentence. You get looped, you die... Play this boss like a mage, and pull 1-2 at a time but not all 3. This fight only poses a danger to you if you engage all 3 at the same time. Pet pulling to the agro line should help you lose 1-2 Hades.
    • Charon [Legendary] - This encounter really gave me a run for my money. The problem in this fight is that there's so much unavoidable damage. Along with constant environmental damage, you'll be pelted with projectiles all day. The kill threat increases when he transitions to 2nd form since his ground slam attack does massive damage. A sync'd Crying Water from 3 Charons may kill you...and it doesn't you are left wide open (from Crying Water stun) for a River Rise attack to finish you off.
    • Empusa + Machae [Legendary] - Tread carefully whenever you see a mix of Empusas and Machae. This is lethal for melee toons that have no easy access to CtAP. Soul Empusas will drain your low energy pool fast and when that hits 0 you will be stripped off your buffs. Frozen Empusas will freeze you in place and leave you very vulnerable, while Defense Mastery offers reduced reduction to freeze, 2-3 seconds of being unable to cast anything will leave you dangerously open. Machae archers’ damage output needs no introduction and is one of the most annoying enemies in xMax Hardcore. The worst case scenario is for you to get frozen under an energy drain AoE with Machae archers pelting you. This is the sole reason why I would advise newer players to swap to a Ritual Amulet on top of Glorybringer (for the ~50+% demon damage reduction)
    • Dactyl [Epic & Legendary] - Don't attempt to fight. Dactyl's seem to have high resistance to Fire. Add that to the damage nerf on EBD and you will have a long fight with him. Do you really want to risk a extended encounter against one of the most known hardcore toon killers in Titan Quest? AI is unpredictable and erratic, some times he'll throw out his wave in intervals there are times when he just goes *pew pew pew* = dead. You have no efficient cheesing ability, nor can you withstand consecutive waves or spike him down. So, avoid this fight.

    Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
    • [Level 1 - 10] - Snowball your way to Sparta. Farm Nessus to develop your Distortion Wave. These 2 damage sources will get you through most things until end of Act 1.
    • [Level 10-24] - tech your way to Trance of Wrath and Distort Reality (respec out of DW) and farm the Gorgons until XP gains start becoming insignificant. By then these 2 skills will be developed and will serve to be your primary wave clear and boss killing skill.
    • [Level 24-40] - By equipping a low level armor from Epic or even Legendary using Captain's Signet(s) and boosting your STR through relics, just steamroll your way to Hade's Palace, while developing your Earth Tree. Prioritize Ring of Flame first before other Earth Skills. Then work on boosting your passives gradually to increase damage and survivability. Any available equipment slots should be dedicated in boosting your EBD, fire damage or +skills
    • [Level 40-50] - By act 4 - start developing your Eruption to assist you with you boss clear times. Farm Hades here for XP.
    • [Level 50-61] - In Epic play as is but scrape maps. you will get so much XP just by killing everything on xMax. And because you have the ability to walk mobs to death, it takes very little effort and time. If you are adventurous you can equip sacrificial amulet while doing this to rack up more xp.
    • [Level 60-61 and beyond] - this is where the actual challenge starts. Everything before this was just a farming simulator. Good luck!

    Performance in Ragnarok:
    Level Finished: 75
    * Ragnarok XP curve boosted it to level 72.
    Completed Ragnarok Hardcore: Yes
    Difficulty Rating in Legendary: 4 out of 5

    Possible Improvements to Existing Build/Setup:
    Gameplay and tactics remain unchanged, for the most part, everything else is the same as before.

    As our existing equipment include a huge +skills both our masteries, there is not much more to expand in terms of the skill tree.

    Specific Equipment Changes:
    Odyseus's Armor - With this armor swap, the current setup now makes us ~-28% damage from undead, -52% damage from demons, -35% damage from beastmen and -24% damage from magical. That's about ~70-80% of monsters in the game. As a character dependent on auras for damage, this is very good for the build
    Trollwrestler Greaves - more resist to balance out the toon further and raise damage reduction from beastmen to -50%

    With the Levelling Curve revamp, we gained 10+ levels equating to 30+ skills points. Since the existing equipment has numerous +x Skills (Eye of Reveries), why did I not revamp the gear to put this into consideration?

    The answer is simple. Majority of the items chosen was not exactly chosen for the +skills bonus, but the damage bonuses the gear had. Being a built as a tank mage hybrid, with no inherent tank skills save for ToC, attributes were spread thin between STR/DEX/INT, with our main damage from Fire and EBD (both affected by INT), we sacrifice the stat so that we could wear items like Aionios, Visor of the Shadowlord & Sceptre of the Shadow King. To compensate for that we equipped items that further increased our aura damage. Unfortunately, I have not come up with a combination that would give us the same effect as our usual gameplay.

    Threats/Bosses:
    • Gladsheim & Vallhol - Imagine the Athenian Warcamps in Act 1, except this time the critter actually produce notable damage to you. The density of projectiles flying in your face is insane. Use your experience in Normal and Epic to get familiar with the map. Do not clean out completely, leave stragglers so you have safety points to phantom strike to in case you need to retreat. Cycle your crowd control & safety skills and have at least 1 available at any given time. If there is a place in the game where you need CC badly. THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED IT
    • Dark Elves - without demon/magical damage reduction this will might as well be on every toon's list. Since I did not equip a Glorybringer, this toon will have a hard time in Land's End. The only reason why I put them on number two below Gladsheim is because, Land's End is a relatively short segment in the game.
    • Jotun Champions - They are not exactly threatening, but in xMax conditions these Frost Giants appear in packs of 6-7, along with their merry Jotun friends. At melee range, they have the capability of stun locking you to oblivion while the Jotuns pound you to pieces. Since this toon is melee, it is also exposed to that hazard. Make sure to put some investment on Freeze resist,
       freeze lock deaths are a terrible way to go.
    • Fafnir - Even with Glorybringer equipped, this toon had some close calls with Fafnir. This can mainly be attributed to the nature of this build's damage. Since he requires to be at close proximity to dish out constant tick damage, 3x Fafnir spamming Vortex pools will eat you for lunch. You can either wear Plouton's Wraps or a Ritual Amulet to mitigate the damage or have a fair management of your Stone Form.
    [/list]
    « Last Edit: 21 March 2018, 10:33:33 by gasconron »

    Offline gasconron

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    Hardcore Run Class: Soothsayer

    Considered by most to be one of the stronger Petmancers available in-game. It's synergy fits well when boosting your pets with Vita-damage becase of the built in RR shred aura Necrosis provides.

    Build Concept & Source of Damage:
    Petmancer & Support Class
    Wolves, Lich, Outsider Nymph & Deathchill Aura tree
    Personal Class+Build Tier Rating: 1 out of 5; Very Weak (in xMax)
    Difficulty Rating:
    Early Game (1-45): 5 out of 5 Early Game
    Late Game (45-65): 5 out of 5 Late Game
    Normal to Legendary Finish: 7 Days, 5 Hours, 13 Minutes
    Kills: 50,292
    Level Finished: 67

    Class Notes:
    • Just to get this straight. This class is not weak at all, like I mentioned this is one of the stronger petmancers available in-game. It's just that xMax in general is not friendly for petmancer builds.
    • In Pre-anniversary it was already hard to use a petmancer for a xmax hardcore run, with all the monster buffs, nerf on life reduction and nerf on overall resists this class suffers big in AE xMax.
    • When running a petmancer the ultimate decision is whether you will play as full support or will you be a hyrbid damage dealer with your pets just there for distraction. If you opt for pure petmancy, you will find yourself facing various issues:
      • Pet wiping; a petless petmancer is an ineffective, and most of the time, a dead one. There are abundant situations in-game on Legendary where this could happen; whether it be overagro, high boss damage/sustain, or Boss AoE skills that will wipe your crew.
      • Since you will be in the fray a lot you need to be able to take hits much better than your usual caster/ranged toon. - - which leads us to our first dilemma:
      • Do you go tanky or low cooldown? - - this question leads to another problem:
      • Stat optimization (survivability is usually addressed by STR items and CD is usually INT items, and because you need to spread yourself thin between the 2, you will lack the DEX to achieve a respectable DA rating; on top of that you need Resistances and +Skills to be effective)  - - this leads to another issue, which is:
      • Dependence on gear stat buffing/req debuffing. This means being spread thin for most of the game until you have enough stats o equip your items. This also means you will be in your end-game equipment much later than most characters who just wait for the level requirements.
      • This also means there is almost no flexibility in character progression. Tight stat distribution means that a f#%! up in stat distribution early game will cause a huge delay in achieving End-Game status.
    • Slow progress and slow levelling unless you opt to go early Ternion and be a full fledged petmancer in Epic. Otherwise, pet-pulling tactics is slow and tedious. Since you are "guess-timating most of the time, it's not even a guarantee that you will get your desired results.
    • End-game XP farming takes forever. Usual XP boss farms like Hydra, Typhon & Dragon Liche are out of the question due to their potent Pet Wiping abilities and dangers they pose to your hardcore run. As for mob clearing, it's already a chore to clean a map full of critters on a petmancer, having to do it multiple times just makes you vommit.
    • Very hard to play in xMax with out the "Show Agro" mod. The key to playing petmancers effectively is agro control. Getting overwhelmed especially early when your pets have low-damage and low survivability

    Personal Challenge Equipment:
    Wraithlord/Ritualist Amulet of Convocation - Dionysus Wineskin w/ DA or Bleed Resist Bonus
    Wraithlord/Ritualist Ring of Immortality (2) - Dionysus Wineskin w/ DA or Bleed Resist Bonus
    & Demon's Blood w/ DA Bonus
    Archmage Clasp
    Deimos
    Mantle of Sa'Jun
    Hallowed Revnant Crown Legends/Mastery/Immortality - Crystal of Erebus w/ Resist All bonus
    Impenetrable Batrachos Greaves of Any - Pristine Plumage w/ Poison Resist Bonus.
    Weightless Stone Hammer of Might - Valor of Achilles w/ DEX bonus
    Star of Ishtar - with Elemental Resist Bonus

    [Stat Buffing/Req Debuffing Equipment:]
    Thoth's Glory Relic
    Captain's Signet (2)
    Hale Ring of Might

    Helm - The odds of this dropping in a regular farm is impossible. However, since the optimization benefits of it to the overall build is BADLY needed. I consider it a must. I suggest for you to farm this using an exploit in pre-Anniversary (patch 1.17 comm patch or later) with Defiler filtering (yellow, white and broken). This increases the chance of some MIs spawning to abnormal levels only with rare (green) affixes. Since this drop requires a Hallowed affix this is your best bet to get it. Scumbag much? Yeah, but better than MI shop, yes?

    Gloves - Massive CDR; only reason why

    Armor - low str req means you can use it early. It provides huge boost to a lot of resists.

    Boots - The thin spread means that this build lacks the DA it needs to be viable in Legendary xMax. Lowered STR req makes it an ideal equipment for this build.

    Shield - +Skills and Resists to fill in and avoid the -% for Legendary

    Jewelry - This is self explanatory. For pure petmancers, you'll need the extra damage in Legendary. Plague and Necrosis RR shred with this on your pets will result in a servicable slow clear. IMHO, this is the only way you can make this build viable in xMax in AE. It was optional pre-Anniversary, but I concluded that this is mandatory in AE.

    Biggest Threats/Potential Challenge Enders (Highest to Lowest Threat):
    too many to mention, rather than mention specific encounters I will try to classify certain threats and group enemies within that category.[
    • AoE or PBAoE Bosses - these will wipe your pets and leave you in a very vulnerable situation, especially if you are in a vulnerable situation. The only way to deal with this is equip for CDR (swap to Jade Emperor's Talisman and activate an Archmage Fury Scroll) and spam summon the best you can while avoiding the agro of the boss(es) chasing you. Examples are: Yaoguai, Dragon Liche, Typhon, Hades, Cerberus, Hydra, Manticores
    • High DPS/Sustain/High Vita Resist Enemies - unlike AoE Bosses that wipe your crew, these will outlast your pets all the while dealing damage to you. For bosses, deal with it like the mentioned above. For mobs, only way to deal with this is agro control. Examples are Mino Lords, Dragon Liche, Talos
    • Spellbreakers - considering I did not pay any mind to HP with this build, your HP pool of 4.5-6k depending on how much HP items you equipped is dependent on you Heart of the Oak buff. Lose it in the middle of a fight and you die... PERIOD. I experienced this first hand in an previous attempt, and the feeling sucks.
    • Reflection + Plague in Legendary - You know that Defender Mini Boss Skeleton in the Side Quest "Skeleton Raiders"? I had the misfortune of learning hardway that Plague can be reflected. With both pots on recharge, low energy I was 3 "tick" killed by a reflected plague in one of my attempts.

    Progression & Recommended Grinding Routes:
    • [Level 1 - 40] -From the start of the game till you reach Typhon you will be acquainted with the Snowball. First rushing it to Ternion and increasing your INT as you go. Check your stat plan and plan out how much STR you will need to equip your highest STR item w/ Req Debuffing considered. Put your first couple of points to INT to boost your clear with Snowball + Ternion. Since Snowball is a potent Normal item maximize it's use (you'll miss it when you stop using it). Build your liche and at least a point in Outsider before you develop Nature. The only points you need to drop in Nature this early is to activate Heart of the Oak Buff and +HP% boost. Grind the usual Boss XP Grind Spots: Gorgons, Statue Bosses & Typhon.
    • [Level 40-50] - Act 4 is when your snowball starts to lose it's potency. Best is to equip armors that you can relic with INT bonuses to boost your clear. At this stage you have a fairly developed petmancer tree, but far from ready. Save petmancer play Epic. Farm Hades till you puke blood. This will be your last chance to earn easy XP. Once you respec to a fully fledged petmancer your nightmare begins.
    • [Level 50-55+] - By this time you should be able to equip all your STR items without needing Thoth's Glory. Depending on how much STR you have, you may or may not need to equip Captain's Signet If you invested INT early game to boost your Ternion damage you should have enough to equip Archmage Clasps as well when you do equip Thoth's. Your goal from here on out is to accumulate enough INT to not need Thoth's anymore. Once you do, every attribute will be dumped to DEX to crawl your DA to respectable levels.
    • [Beyond] - Good luck  ;D

    Performance in Ragnarok:
    [to be updated...]
    « Last Edit: 03 December 2017, 13:05:28 by gasconron »

    Online MedeaFleecestealer

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    Pleased to see you doing this gasconron.  Sure it will be a great help to those wanting to try the Xmax HC challenge.  I too chose Conqueror as my first toon, the first time because it seemed to be the strongest class, I was totally new to the genre and needed all the help I could get.  ;D  I died lots of times (60+) iirc, but it was the first toon I got through to the end of the game.  Played it again as my first toon when I got a new PC and move the game on to that.

    One suggestion though - lose the yellow text.  It's unreadable against the forum background.  My eyesight's not 100% (I wear glasses), but all I see is a blur of yellow so no idea what stuff you're suggesting to look out for. 

    Since you're posting details of when your toons completed the Xmax HC challenge I'll add them to the new leaderboard.  :)  Are these all new toons you started in the AE version or are some older IT ones?  Let me know so I can mark them up if needed on the leaderboard.
    « Last Edit: 02 December 2017, 12:30:56 by MedeaFleecestealer »

    Offline Melari

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    indeed yellow is unreadable for me as well.

    Offline efko

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    I think that there might be chance for changing yellow to darker one.
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    Offline gasconron

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    @MedeaFleecestealer :

    No need to add; these are re-runs and for the most part just for my own satisfaction. i just wanted to see if i am still able to do them with the new buffed monsters and nerfed cap and res values of AE. Last thing i want to do is clutter LB for newer players; will be doing my own thing for now. Will rejoin the challenge soon enough using other classes I haven't used before or old classes I'm convinced can't finish the challenge using the same concept I used originally.

    As for the yellow tagging, sorry just wanted it to match the labelling system of TQ. It does hurt the eyes doesn't it?  ;D
    « Last Edit: 02 December 2017, 21:48:05 by gasconron »

    Online MedeaFleecestealer

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    Well, I don't think it would hurt to give new players some examples, but I can link to this thread in the opening Xmax HC one and they can see for themselves.

    It wasn't so much hurting my eyes, just that I couldn't make out what the words were supposed to be.  It was just a blur of yellow something - couldn't even say for sure they were letters. I thought you were trying to match the ingame colour coding, but unfortunately that simply didn't work.  The orange is much better and I can read what you're actually talking about!

    Offline CrocMagnum

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    Woah, gasconron! I'm so happy to see you back. :)

    I can see you still have it. Doing a crazy set of challenges like that takes some talent (and time). +respect for doing it with xMax. ^^

    I also like the way you put Classes into perspective: indeed some Classes are better at survival than others.

    Anyways! Good luck on your endeavours.
    « Last Edit: 05 December 2017, 15:27:09 by CrocMagnum »

    Offline gasconron

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    @CrocMagnum : Thanks, was already a daunting and time consuming task to do all 36... Ragnarok just made longer (45). And I have to revisit past entries to see if they can do expansion content no worries :D It's all good. Love this game though. Talent not really, more like patience.
    « Last Edit: 05 December 2017, 17:10:34 by gasconron »

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