Hell Part Two

I had missed large parts of Act I and II due to our weekly game night sessions overlapping with the basketball season at my university. (Although I rarely mention it on this website, I'm a huge sports fan.) After a disappointing end to the year, my scheduling conflicts were finally over and I could get back to more of an emphasis on the druid team games. Fortunately that meant more pictures and more stories to share for the website!

The jungle portions of Act III were relatively uneventful, even here in Hell. Our front line had some very sturdy tanks in Bearlin_Wall, Jaffa's werewolf, and Viking's Teddy, with dathon's wolves available for further distraction as needed. We had few problems protecting the magely druids in the rear, who were actually getting most of the kills (Fissure and Tornado being the main contributors, with assistance from Boulder and Arctic Blast). The worst that I recall happening was poor Namarie (and her negative 80% lightning resistance) getting lit up by some Gloams on a few occasions.

As such, most of my pictures are from the more dangerous underground areas:

Such as this fight against Sszark. At least his two extra abilities were relatively tame. This is a pretty good demonstration of the usual tactics, with various furry creatures manning the front lines while the mages (hard to see here) were able to cast in safety. I was able to lock up much of this mob with Shockwave, which helped out in terms of keeping everyone alive.

And on to another similar boss, although Endugu is not nearly as dangerous. T-Hawk's Fissure was doing most of the killing in the Flayer Dungeon, but was useless in this particular fight. Usually in this situation we would rely on Namarie's Tornados, which wasn't the greatest idea here against an LEB spraying sparks everywhere! Teddy and Jaffa did most of the damage in this fight, with Bearlin_Wall occasionally landing a crushing blow to help out.

In contrast, against Stormtree it was Fissure all the way, with his total lack of any fire resistance whatsoever (well - aside from that Magic Resistant draw, d'oh!) Dathon was responsible for the Weaken curse against this mob, helping to keep us all alive longer. And look at that perfect Boulder placement too from Shadow, now that's some fine work!

The worst immunity draw for the Rogue team had been the dual combo of Physical and Fire Immune. As it turns out, that was also the toughest combination for the druid team:

We must have stood around beating on this zombie (who had no offensive boss abilities, and thus posed no threat) for a good five minutes, if not longer. As sad as the damage output was, Zed's Arctic Blast was doing more damage than everything else put together. Dathon was even screwing around with Poison Nova charges for fun, which didn't achieve much either. This fight would have been totally impossible without Prevent Monster Heal weapons to help out (always, always have one of these around in D2X! Makes all sorts of variant builds feasible.) Eventually the stupid thing keeled over and died. All that this really proved was that we had plenty of patience to sit through a lot of tedium.

Full-clearing meant going through all of the temples. I snapped a picture of the Sarina fight, although it didn't come out too well:

This was a pretty favorable draw in terms of boss abilities, nothing like Cursed or Extra Strong or Lightning Enchanted. The Fire Immunity meant that Namarie had to get the kill with Tornado, once we had cleared out some of the surrounding mob, that is. The other temples had bosses, but none eventful enough to capture in pictures. The worst I remember was a room so filled with beetles, it was just a white screen of charged bolts when T-Hawk cast Fissure inside. In order to kill anything, we had to retreat and allow a few beetles to move out of the room, then mop them up and return for the rest of the mob.

As always, we cleared out Travincal of baddies before moving to engage the Council. Several of them came out at once, so I lured away the extras and portal parked them in the northwest corner, leaving the rest of the team to concentrate on Ismail:

This picture came out pretty well. Thank goodness they fixed that Heal-a-portation nonsense from the original game, or we might have been fighting this guy all night (or, more accurately, had to permanently park him somewhere). We tackled the Council in the order of Ismail, Geleb, and then finally Toorc:

Toorc is completely getting his ass kicked here. Bereft of his minions, he didn't stand much of a chance. It's always nice to see good teamwork prevail against mindless demonic force!

We had to clear most of the Durance on a night where several team members were missing: T-Hawk, Zed, and Jaffa. With offense largely restricted to Shadow and Namarie, fights that would otherwise have been routine became hard work:

This might look like a normal boss, but he had us stymied for several minutes on end, all of the damage we were inflicting simply getting erased by monster regen. Part of the problem is that T-Hawk was the team's Prevent Monster Heal enforcer, and as such we were doubling lacking in offense (not doing damage from Fissure, enemies regaining health quickly). We solved the issue by having dathon pass me a PMH dagger, allowing me to tag all of the enemies. (This became a permanent swap; Bearlin_Wall wasn't using anything on his second weapons tab anyway!) Along with a whole lot of slogging and hard work, we were thus able to clear the gigantic Durance 2 on this particular night.

On the next week's session (with everyone present), Bearlin_Wall had to run through the new map from the waypoint to find the stairs down to Durance 3. This was a bit of a hair-raising experience, to put it lightly! (I swear, I drank five times as many rejuvs finding staircases/waypoints as I did in actual normal combat!) Anyway, find the stairs and down we all go to meet this customer:

Bremm was quite dangerous and took a lot of time to wear down. Unfortunately I can't remember what he drew for his aura, and it's not clear from this screenshot either. Bearlin_Wall had to return to town at least once for potions during this fight. The other two Council bosses were more routine, Maffer in particular could be bottled up with ease by Teddy and dathon's wolves, then downed with spells at range.

So that meant it was time for Mephisto:

Dathon used Lower Resist charges to speed things along, and otherwise it was a whole lot of standing around waiting for the big M to hurry up and die. Mephisto isn't that dangerous, not when you have a ton of life or can hide behind a group of pets. We kept hitting him with Tornados, Fissures, Boulders, and whatnot. Eventually he gave up the ghost. Then, mere minutes after we entered Act IV, Zed showed up late and we had to return to Act III to catch him up. So Bearlin_Wall found the stairs to Durance 3 again, and we killed Mephisto a second time. No tougher on the repeat pass.

Now with all eight team members in tow, we ventured out into the plains of Hell:

There was so much action going on in that picture, I left it uncropped to speak for itself. This was snapped in the Plains of Despair, with Burning Souls supplying the lightning fireworks, along with Venom Lord infernos. At some points, it was difficult for me even to see what was going on, there was so much stuff appearing on the screen. You'd think that with all this lightning Namarie would be having it rough, but I remember T-Hawk being the one who went to scout on point, got swarmed by Fire Immune monsters, and was killed. Whoops.

Izual was easy but made for a nice picture. So there ya go.

Remember the fight against the Physical/Fire Immune zombie back in the Swampy Pit? It turned out that he had a cousin right at the entrance to the City:

Another virtually unkillable monster. Even with PMH stopping him from regenerating, this battle was still just crawling along. (The one time when Zed's Arctic Blast would have been a lifesaver, he wasn't able to make the session!) As it turned out, dathon had turned up Witchwild String, the unique short siege bow, early in Act IV. This was a very fine weapon, with the added bonus (for our team) of having 2% chance to cast Amplify Damage upon striking. Amp is one curse that you can't get on item charges, and even this pitiful chance to cast the spell was a big deal. Why? Because Amp removed the boss' Physical Immunity, which allowed Namarie's Tornados to instantly do 10x the normal rate of damage. After two curses (during which we did something like 70% of the total damage), this boss finally croaked.

Any time we would face a Physical Immune boss or normal monster, dathon would call out a hit from his weapon - "Amped!" - over our voice chat. T-Hawk soon started referencing the hyperactive commercials for AMP energy drink, which was pretty damn hilarious. Check out this link for an example.

Out in the River, we ran into just about the worst possible trait combo for Hephasto:

That's Extra Strong/Cursed/Might Enchanted/Spectral Hit, for those counting at home. The literal definition of a one-hit kill. I deliberately let Bearlin_Wall take a hit to see how much damage Hey Fatso was doing with each swing, and it was about 1500. Yowza. Poor Namarie! Even an ubertank like Bearlin_Wall can't stand up to that kind of punishment. We had to back off and let Teddy and the wolves handle this one, while Fissure and Boulder did damage at range.

On the first trip through the Chaos Sanctuary, we cleared everything up to the seals, only to have Battle.net go down in a crash. Unbelievable! That meant having to redo the entire area over again. But in the intervening week, a terrible real-life tragedy struck Shadow's family, which understandably terminated her involvement in our game. All of our thoughts and prayers were and still remain with Shadow over her loss.

With that somber note in mind, the rest of the team went about finishing off the rest of Act IV:

This is as easy as it gets against one of the seal bosses. Bearlin_Wall has the Vizier's mob locked up with Shockwave, and Fissure and Tornado are tearing the mob to pieces. Everything but the Vizier himself was dead in about ten seconds. De Seis and the Infector fared no better.

Diablo was quite thoroughly humbled, as bad as I've ever seen the big guy take it. We trapped him at the edge of the pentagram between Jaffa, Bearlin_Wall, and the rest of the pets. That allowed Namarie to get up close and use a lot of Tornados in succession. We were wondering if dathon's use of Lower Resist would cause him to come charging out again (as had happened in Rogue Revival, where Diablo made a nonstop beeline for dathon) but no such thing occurred. A change in AI behavior in 1.11 or a coincidence? Who knows. Diablo never got free of that spot and died right where he stood (check the inset picture).

Four Acts down, one to go. The druid team will see you again for the final battle against Baal.