The Low Rent Legion team started out with its first session on 8 October 2021, about two weeks after Diablo 2 Resurrected was released. We planned to run weekly Friday sessions for roughly 2-3 hours apiece and see how long it took to advance through the game. Unfortunately we were missing Barely_legal and Myth for this first session but everyone else was present and we were able to make great progress through the beginning parts of Act One. Normal difficulty rarely presents much of a challenge in Diablo 2 and this first session was no exception. In fact, our variant specifically required the team to be maxing their CLVL 1 skills rather than saving up a bunch of skill points for use later on. Everyone was at the absolute peak of their powers right out of the gate and the monsters stood no chance at all. We raced through each region at breakneck speed and the biggest limitation was everyone running out of Stamina to keep their characters in running mode.
From my perspective, the biggest challenge in these early areas was trying to avoid having Electric Tsunami run out of mana. I was dumping every skill point into Charged Bolt as we continued leveling at an amazing rate (thanks to being in a Players 6 environment) and the electric bolts would mow through anything even with the extra HP on the monsters. However, Electic Tsunami was well short of 100 mana and a few seconds of continued casting would drain her blue orb down to nothing. This was only magnified when the team found an amulet with 10% faster cast for me and then I was able to purchase a staff with +2 Charged Bolt and another 10% faster cast on it! Stat points were going into Strength to get it up to the minimal value of 35 that I'd targeted for the moment and that meant not skilling Energy at first. Boro's Barbarian LRL_PunchingBag was helping out with Find Potion and enough mana potions dropped that I was able to keep pace with our physical damage dealers. We had Gario pumping up his melee skeletons with additional skill points, plus casting Amplify Damage curse as needed, plus the Might aura from Dp101's Paladin. I think that anything the skeletons so much as sneezed on collapsed instantly.
We skipped all of the various quest areas at first in the hopes that our missing players might be able to join us, then went back and completed everything up to the Outer Cloister once it became clear that we would only have six players for the first session. Running the Den of Evil with characters at CLVL 12 was pretty hilarious and not for the enemies. Blood Raven was dead before she could finish speaking her villain monologue and Griswold exploded before half the team could even see his Cursed aura. The biggest danger that the team ran into in this first session was an Exploding Shrine that took out half of everyone's health bars when activated. We also had a single death suffered against the Countess, entirely due to lack of coordination when Dp101's Paladin was mobbed by a group of corrupted rogues in a separate room while everyone else was sorting through the treasure dropped by the quest objective. Ummm - sorry about that! From working with past variant teams, I can guarantee that the coordination gets a lot better with time as the group spends more time working with their characters. The sheer easiness of Act One Normal can also make things tough because the monsters die so fast that it's hard to develop any sort of tactics. We all knew that things would eventually get harder, if not for a little while yet.
We were missing Boro for our second session but everyone else was able to make it. The team continued clearing through each area at breakneck speed and managed to finish the rest of Act One followed by proceeding a good ways into Act Two. The biggest challenge for my character was grabbing and drinking a constant flow of mana potions to keep from running out as the team tore its way across the map. I don't recall anything in the second half of Act One causing any problems for the group in this session and I believe that we went deathless while proceeding from the Outer Cloister down to the bottom of the Catacombs. Andariel died in about three seconds and I'm glad that I was able to get the screenshot before she collapsed.
The plan for Act Two was to head straight for the Halls of the Dead to unlock the Horadric Cube and then see if there would be enough time left over for the Sewers afterwards, which fortunately there was. Out in the deserts we ran into our first modest difficulty in the form of the beetles and their sparking electrical bolts. Diablo 2 uses the same graphical effect for their sparks as it goes for the Sorceress' Charged Bolt and my character was already filling up the screen with SLVL 20 spellcasting. It was difficult to tell what was safe and what wasn't safe when Electric Tsunami cut loose against a mob of beetles. This problem was further exacerbated by Gario's skeleton minions who would produce lots of additional sparks with their melee attacks, and of course this early in the game not everyone had much in the way of lightning resistance. We suffered a couple of deaths until our melee characters figured out that they needed to back off a bit and let the skeleton minions do the tanking. Having Boro's Barbarian on hand would have been helpful here!
It's always a lot of fun to see a big team working together against the swarms of enemies in Act Two's underground tombs. It could be a bit tricky to reach the Hollow Ones in the back of rooms since we didn't have any reliable cold damage to remove the bodies of undead opponents. Gario could clean the corpses by raising them as skeletons but that was too mana-intensive to rely on at the moment. Since this was only Normal difficulty, we could still bowl over the enemies and rush the greater mummies which usually worked out well. I think there was one moment where one of our characters was stuck in the doorway and couldn't retreat due to all of the rest of us pressed up against the entryway and then was swarmed under and killed. I was trying to balance my character's positioning so that her Charged Bolts would flow through open doors into the next room while also not being close enough to the fights to be in danger. For the moment, it wasn't too hard to stay safe with a ranged character.
Myth missed the first hour of our session before being able to join us. He created a new game so that we could rush him through the end of Act One and then pick up a Horadric Cube for his Firestorm Druid. This didn't take long at all and we were able to finish the session with everyone caught up through the Dry Hills / Halls of the Dead. The most noteworthy item finds for my character were making a Stealth runeword armor (the default go-to armor for a casting character early in the game) and then finding another Ring of the Apprentice. I had three Apprentice properties (10% faster cast) on both rings and the amulet slot, enough for 55% faster cast in total with the Stealth runeword! One of those items was doing nothing because the break points for frames on a Sorceress are 37% faster cast (10 frames) and then 63% faster cast after that (9 frames) but this was still pretty awesome. 10 frames per cast was much, MUCH faster than the default 13 frames per cast.
Here's one additional amusing screenshot. We decided to follow a pattern from some of the past variant teams that I've been on, assigning each player responsibility for collecting one gem type. For example, I would collect all of the Topazes with them being a thematic fit for my lightning sorcie. We decided who would get what type of gem and then everyone tossed down the extra gems they had been collecting thus far in the town square so that they could be reassigned to the appropriate individual. Needless to say, this is the sort of thing that you would never see in a public Battle.net game.