Skulla Part Two: Uniquely Unsatisfying

Count Skulla began Nightmare Act I at clvl 36 with the following:

Base Stats
Strength 34
Dexterity 25
Vitality 96
Energy 105

Raise Skeleton @3+1
Raise Mage @8+1
Mastery @10+3
Summon Resist @2+1
Clay Golem, Blood Golem, Iron Golem, Fire Golem, Golem Mastery @1+1

Iron Maiden @1+1
Dim Vision @2+1
Lower Resist @2+1
Decrepify @1+1
Amplify Damage, Weaken, Terror, Life Tap, Confuse @1+1

Summoner's Bone Wand of Brilliance: +1 necro skills, +9 energy
Rare Studded Leather: +15 life, 28% fire resist, 19% cold resist, 8% lightning resist, -2 MD
Preserved Head of the Jackal: +2 Mastery, +1 life
Garnet Circle of the Sentinel: 30% fire resist, -2 MD
Coral Heavy Gloves of Thawing: 29% lightning resist, half freeze duration
Sander's Riprap (Set Boots): 40% faster run, +100 AR, +5 strength, +10 dexterity
Rare Belt: 24% faster hit recovery, +15 AR, +14 life
Russet Ring of the Apprentice: 12% fire resist, 10% faster cast
Coral Ring: 28% lightning resist
Cobalt Amulet of Regeneration: 28% cold resist, +5 life regen

Javelin of Vileness: Prevent Monster Heal
Three Socket Large Shield (still unsocketed)
"Stealth" Studded Leather: 25% faster run, 25% faster cast, 25% faster hit recovery, +6 dexterity, 15% faster mana regen, 30% poison resist, -3 MD
Assorted stashed rings and amulets

Skulla's equipment was still by and large garbage - not a single keeper item turned up anywhere in Normal difficulty. I could live with some of his gear: his wand, armor, and belt were all acceptable and would carry him for some time yet to come. However, much of the rest of Skulla's setup was unacceptably bad for this late in the game. A simple Coral ring on one hand? An amulet with little more than cold resistance? Sadly, these were actually the best items that Skulla had turned up so far. Other pieces of gear were simply not the right fit for the character. Sander's Riprap was nice for the 40% faster run, but everything else on it was completely useless. Skulla would have been happy to trade down to 30% faster run and pick up some life boosts or more resists there.

Now it was no coincidence that Skulla's setup was subpar. I was spending most of his money throughout Normal on upgrading to better and better wands as they became available from the merchants, and at 100-200k per purchase, they were pretty painful on the wallet. Skulla also spent most of his gambling money trying to land a throwing weapon with the coveted Prevent Monster heal affix on it, which he did hit late in Act IV, but only after I had wasted several hundred thousand in gambles. It made the most sense to go after the PMH weapon early, since that's one of the few item affixes that show up at a low character level; the longer Skulla waited, the more prefixes and suffixes could show up, and the lower the overall odds would be. So that was one relief that was now out of the way. Skulla HAD to use either a PMH javelin or throwing knife, because he lacked the Dexterity to use anything but these basic items!

Stat-wise, pretty much everything had gone into Vitality and Energy thus far, a trend that would only continue. 34 Strength was plenty to equip a three socket shield, and there was little need to take Strength further (barring a desirable rare/unique dropping, and that couldn't be counted upon). Skulla had a nice life total for starting Nightmare, especially for a casting character. On the other hand, his resists were pretty unimpressive - that would be a major goal moving forward.

The first thing Skulla did in Nightmare was add skill points to Lower Resist and Dim Vision that had been saved from the end of Normal (these were included in the totals above). I planned to stop Lower Resist at slvl 2, and rely on skill boosters for another 3-4 points there, hoping to finish at slvl 5 or 6. Dim Vision needed pumping to increase the area of effect and duration - the duration of all curses is cut in half in Nightmare, incidentally. (It's cut again in Hell, to 1/4 duration!) The early skill points here in Nightmare would be going to beef up Skulla's primary curses of choice, Dim Vision and Iron Maiden.

Skulla was happy to find that he had little trouble getting an army going out in the Blood Moor, using Golly + IM for the first few bodies and then relying on the skeletal mages afterwards. The Blood Moor was a cakewalk (a good sign!), with four fire mages absolutely tearing up the weak opponents. The Den was easy as well, with no bosses other than Corpsefire, who killed several warriors but never came even close to breaking the lines. Skulla invested the Den skill point into DV, and along with a level up to clvl 37, that took the skill to 4+1, now with a radius of 5.3 yards. That was almost double the 3 yard radius Skulla had been using throughout Normal! It made a very noticeable difference.

Corpsefire also dropped the unique Demonhide Gloves, Venom Grip, which would have been awesome for Meatbag but sadly contributed little other than Poison Resist for Skulla. I kept 'em in stash anyway, against some potential use in the future against maybe Andariel or Coldworm.

The Cold Plains served up the usual mix of fallens/shamans along with corrupted rogues and gargantuan beasts. Skulla found himself having to raise the fallens as soon as they hit the ground in order to prevent the shamans from bringing them back to life again, even with DV support. Oh sure, he might Dim the shaman he was currently fighting, but it was inevitable that some other shaman three screens away would start reviving fallens behind the lines, and that was very bad for Skulla! (I don't care what anyone says, their revive range is MUCH greater in D2X than it used to be.) The only safe way to proceed was to clean up every corpse, which was mana-hungry and sometimes slow going.

You can see some of the gore it took to clean up a fallen camp below, in the screenshot of Bishibosh:

This is at the tail end of the battle, most of the hard work already having been done. Lower Resist was useful in speeding the kill here (although not enough to break the Fire Immunity, thanks to the Magic Resistant trait). Bishibosh dropped Bladebuckle, the unique plated belt. Sadly useless for Skulla, due to the high strength requirement (and undesirable affixes too). Uh, that's two uniques so far in this act, both useless for Skulla. Well the next unique to drop has to be better, right?

Down into the Caves next, sticking as usual to a full-clearing pace. Caves 1 was relatively easy, since there were almost no archers inside. Coldcrow though was Cold Enchanted (CEB)/Extra Strong, and required a lot of golem spamming. It didn't help that some zombies wandered into the fight and ran interference; Skulla actually never took any hits from the archers but did take some from them, if you can believe it. Anything that flanks the army's front line greatly complicates the situation and creates additional work. Caves 2 was quite lively, with a dangerous Fire/Lightning Enchanted (FEB/LEB) archer that wiped the mages (fortunately enough fallens around to keep raising more!) and this zombie boss backed by archer support:

There were rogue archers back behind the zombies, so Skulla had no choice but to Dim the whole mob for safety. At least the narrow cavern walls made it easy to blockade with Golly. Whew, some tough fighting down there. On the plus side, Skulla leveled up to 38, and added a point to IM (slvl 2+1, for 250% reflected damage).

Blood Raven had been a joke in Normal, cut down in seconds by an Amped army of skeleton warriors. Would she fare any better here in Nightmare?

Yes, but not by much! It took about a minute to kill off the attending zombie horde, and then Skulla's army laid into Raven, using LR to speed things along. She made a lot of grunting noises and ran around a bit, then expired. This battle feels a lot like the Izual one in some ways; although Blood Raven has a lot of hit points, she's almost useless in terms of damage. The summoned zombies are definitely the most dangerous part of the fight for most characters.

The Crypt was uneventful, all skeletons and zombies (easy) down there. If it's slow moving, it's not much of a threat. Bonebreaker was Stone Skin in addition to his usual Extra Strong/Magic Resistant. Even with the Stone Skin, IM was more attractive than LR, so that's what Skulla used. And get this: Duskdeep, the unique helm, dropped from Bonebreaker - another unique that was virtually useless to Skulla! Geeze, talk about good and bad fortune coming together. It's nice to see uniques dropping, but how about ones that Skulla can actually use?! Although most of the modifiers were useless for Skulla, Duskdeep did have 15% resist all, which was enough to be better than Skulla's sad circlet, so he made the swap, using charms with +str to afford it. Fire resistance dropped down under 20% though, yikes! That's a hole that would have to be fixed ASAP.

The Mausoleum in contrast stirred up a nasty mess - a large skeleton boss pack (Holy Freeze/Teleportation) engaged Skulla's army, while a second skeleton boss pack (FEB/Mana Burn) poured out of a side door. Oh this is not good!

There they are, spliced together into a single screenshot. The saving grace is that I recognized that the situation was hosed the minute that the second boss pack started pouring out of the side door, and got the heck out of there! Skulla immediately ported out (saving all five mages), returned from the waypoint, and re-established a single front. The above screenshot was taken at that point; originally there was one boss on each side of Skulla. Whew! Thankfully the rest of the area was uneventful after that. This was more good practice in how to handle situations where everything started to break down, since skeletons are slow as dirt and the enemies later in the game would be much, much faster.

The Stony Field featured goats, archers, and more zombies. An Extra Strong/Mana Burn archer posed the most threat, and was handled with DV pretty routinely. These fights were much easier when there was space to maneuver (that's why underground areas like the Pit and Forgotten Tower are so tough - no room). Skulla got dragged into the Rakanishu fight against his will, and ended up having to retreat and come back again for safety, stringing out the enemies in the area. That's a major danger of the summoning necro, your minions racing off to engage enemies that you really don't want to fight just yet. A Holy Shock boss encountered shortly thereafter forced a number of retreats to town for healing of minions (yes, this is a real issue). Then a double boss pack with a Multishot/Stone Skin archer and an Extra Strong goat were encountered together, barely ten feet from the last boss! It was like the game got serious all of a sudden, with a half dozen bosses crammed into about 20% of the area. Tough work - the boss packs aren't that bad invididually, drastically harder when encountered together. Skulla took a few hits because there were just too many enemies to present a single front.

Boneflesh, the unique plate mail, also dropped in the Stony Field - what the hell?! That's four different uniques now, and only one of them even marginally useful. Skulla didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the game's cruel sense of fortune.

The Underground Passage had a large Extra Fast/LEB rogue mob near the entrance, where the warriors and Golly were absolutely decimated, but IM did them in relatively quickly. A Multishot/FEB skeleton archer (pictured above) immediately followed, thankfully not fought at the same time as the initial boss! Here you see one of the curse tactics Skulla had picked up by now: how to run LR on a boss and DV on the minions at the same time. Since bosses can't be Dimmed, Skulla would cast LR on the whole mob (hitting everyone), then immediately cast DV on top of it, which would hit all monsters except the boss. This was useful in all sorts of situations, helping to speed up kills against various nasty foes.

A Holy Fire/CEB skeleton archer was handled with the same LR + DV combo, making the fight much easier. The second floor of the Underground Passage had an easy CEB/FEB carver boss (just stay clear of the death explosion!) and another easy Cursed/Teleportation carver. It's hard to think of a trait combo that would actually make a carver boss dangerous, heh. Pretty much cake. Skulla leveled up again to 39, placing the skill point in IM (3+1, 275% returned damage). I had a mind to take the skill to slvl 4+1 for the full 300% reflected damage, then add the remaining skill points in the act to Mastery.

The Dark Wood was non-stop carvers, Skulla had to raise everything as warriors to make any progress at all. This resulted in brutal carnage strewn across the landscape:

The blood and guts actually extend much further, you can only see what's on the single screen though. While clearing the carver camp, Skulla ran into Treehead's mob, and the boss was LEB (in addition to his always Extra Fast/Extra Strong combo). This was not what Skulla needed to be dealing with while facing two dozen ankle biters!

I pulled Skulla the heck out of there, getting Treehead to follow as much as possible. After portaling out and recruiting some new minions from the Cold Plains (it really pays NOT to do the whole act in one session with the summoning necro!), Skulla was able to return and down the boss in relative isolation, then go back and finish cleaning up the carver camp. IM was the curse of choice against Treehead, and Skulla definitely noticed its increased punch from additional skill points. With 300% damage reflection, Extra Strong bosses were knocking their own lights out in no time.

So into Tristram heads Skulla, and indeed it started out easily enough. Then Griswold appeared (fortunately drawing the useless Teleportation ability) right alongside an Extra Fast/Mana Burn skeleton archer boss pack that decimated the army (remember, everything was Cursed from Gris). Skulla had to fight Griswold, with IM and Golly, while Cursed, all the while dodging archer fire and playing tag with carvers (using Terror to make them run). Quite a lot of work, but it did get the job done. With Gris dead, Skulla cleared out of there and recruited a new army from the Cold Plains, then went back to fight the archer boss:

They were relatively easy fought alone - it had been the combination that made things so dangerous. Now image that boss showing up as Extra Strong/Multishot/Might aura in Hell difficulty, and Skulla already being Cursed from Griswold. Yikes! It's no wonder that this game is an unforgiving place for Hardcore characters. There were more carver shaman champs in the center of Tristram too - sheesh. Tough place. For his troubles, Skulla got the absolutely useless Arcanna's Head set helmet. (Like, that is just sad. Replenish life +4 and attacker takes damage of 2. I wouldn't wear that over a socketed helm even in Act I Normal!) For those counting at home, that's five different unique items Skulla has turned up, only one of which had any use. At least the rare Cain reward ring was an upgrade to Skulla's setup.

Then on the same visit back to town, Gheed actually had a pair of boots on sale preferable to Sander's Riprap: 30% faster run, 34% fire resist. Just what Skulla needed with his low fire resistance! He made the switch, resists now reading 53/27/60/12. Skulla continued gambling circlets (as he had been doing for some time), trying to turn up one with +necro skills. Well, Skulla managed to find up circlets with +skills for barbs/assassins/druids/sorcies/amazons, but nothing for necromancers so far. Just gotta keep trying and hope to get lucky. Skulla's ideal helm has +3 to the Summoning tree, which he can probably turn up eventually with enough gambles. He would settle for anything at this point though.

The Black Marsh welcomed Skulla with a Fanaticism skeleton boss who reflected himself to death in seconds, immediately followed by an LEB/Magic Resistant skeleton. This boss died quickly too, while creating some very pretty sparks in the process:

Magic Resistant made IM the more attractive curse to do him in. There were definitely more bosses in Nightmare compared to Normal - a lot more. Skulla also found a Magic Resistant/Teleportation crow boss that was the opposite of tough! That's the least-threatning boss encountered so far in Nightmare.

Hole 1 had a difficult LEB misshapen boss, Skulla kept eating sparks and had to drink reds, then a purple. The rest of the level wasn't too bad though. Hole 2 had Extra Strong/CEB carver (not a threat) and an Extra Fast/LEB brute (a lot more challenging). Still pretty reasonable though. Skulla leveled up to 41, taking Mastery to 11+3. His life was now over 400, a very good sign!

Since Skulla continues to full-clear, there was no more time to put it off, and he initiated the dreaded Forgotten Tower quest. Tower 1 threw out a double boss pack in the second room: Conviction/Cursed devilkin, plus an LEB/Conviction archer. Skulla killed the weak devilkin boss, returned to town to clear the curse (always make sure to do this with a Hardcore character!), recruited a new force, and returned for the archer. Ugh, quite a hairball, trying to fight blindly through a door there. Limited sight makes things tough, but the only other option is to run through the door and into great danger, so what can you do? Tower 2 had ghost champs and that was it, surprisingly easy. LR is the curse of choice against them and their physical resistance. Tower 3 saw a Cursed/Teleportation ghost in the second room, which would have been easy if goats and rogue archers weren't flanking Skulla from both sides at the same time! Retreated, gathered army by town portaling out, downed the boss. This is a very important tactic for re-establishing a single front against flanking attacks. There was also a Teleportation/CEB ghost boss, who was easily killed with LR. Tower 4 had a Cursed/Spectral Hit goat boss in the second room that died quickly to IM. The only other foes of note were devilkin champs (heh). Juice them up as you will, they're still devilkin.

And then it was time for the bottom floor. Skulla came down the stairs to find this mess:

NASTY stairs trap on Tower 5, Fanaticism/LEB devilkin boss immediately on top of Skulla. I managed to kill this foe ONLY because it was a devilkin and not something tougher, with a combo of LR and DV. Thank goodness the devilkin don't have many hit points, because there was absolutely no way to establish any kind of front line and sparks were flying everywhere. I probably would have skipped this fight or rolled a new map in Hell. (Imagine if this had been a rogue archer instead of a devilkin, and Cursed or Extra Strong as the third ability.) A Stone Skin/Mana Burn goat boss also caused problems, because Skulla's army kept running off in other directions to find new targets rather than sticking to the doorway where I wanted them. Even Golly has a problem with this sometimes, literally running away from foes to go target someone else. It's discomforting for Skulla (as the quarterback) when his offensive line runs off in the other direction!

The Countess was FEB/Magic Resistant (Immune to Fire), so of course four of Skulla's five mages were fire shooters. Heh. This is why it's never good to have too many of the same type, as you never know what the game will throw out. The one cold mage had to do all the damage against the Countess (LR helped out a lot). Fortunately, Golly blocked the door and none of the enemies ever made it through.

Skulla was extremely glad to finish this area. Just one difficult fight after another, rarely much chance to get a break. There's no wonder that everyone skips this area on Realms; I mean the reward is freaking GOLD, for crying out loud! You'd have to be crazy to try this stuff with a Hardcore character.

The Tamoe Highland was almost all skeleton archers and fire mages. A FEB/Multishot archer was the worst (cast Golly next to him to absorb shots while mages slowly kill the DV minions). This is one of the largest areas in Act I, but not too bad. Pit 1 had a double boss pack: Mana Burn/Magic Resistant and Might/something... but they were both devilkin. Heh. Skulla only lost a single warrior! A potentially dangerous fight with a Cursed/Extra Strong skeleton saw the boss reflect himself to death in seconds. Wow - glad that wasn't Skulla!

Then it was time for the second floor of the Pit, another truly awful area of this game. Down goes Skulla, and there's a rogue archer champ pack right at the entry. This was emphatically NOT good:

Why is this so bad? The answer to ranged threats for the summoning necro is inevitably Dim Vision, which allows the mages to shoot down targets in safety. Of course DV doesn't work against everything, but you can usually use aggressive Golem placements to keep the mages safe anyway. Now look at the screenshot above more closely. I've circled three champs, and there's actually a fourth champ offscreen to the left (down the stairs). I can't Dim any of these targets, and Golly can only cover one location at a time. That means that the army (and Skulla himself!) are going to take brutal damage no matter what I do here. Ugh.

After some quick experimenting, I ended up placing Golly over to the right side of the screen, to block the two champs moving in from the east. That left the remaining archer directly to the south free, with Skulla attempting to dodge as many arrows as possible while still cursing and raising minions. Even worse, that champ was a Possessed archer, and the possessed champs cannot be cursed at all. Why, I have no idea (this was actually the first time I noticed at all). So Skulla and his army both took a serious pounding while slowly working down the life of this archer.

The possessed archer was finally slain, after what felt like an ungodly long period of time (though probably short in actuality). That allowed Skulla to recast Golly more effectively, and finish off the rest of the champs. Skulla drank an entire belt's worth of potions in inventory, then several mana potions off actual belt, although things were never dire enough to force rejuv use. All I can say is thank heavens for the devilkin - no, really! I needed those devilkin wandering around to provide bodies for additional mages. Somehow Skulla got the job done here, don't ask me how. Then lower in the level Skulla faced an Extra Strong/Holy Freeze rogue boss, alongside a large group of devilkin + shamans. What a tough, tough map.

I tell you, I'm not sure I'm willing to take Skulla down here in Hell, assuming he makes it that far. I may skip certain areas initially, and then come back for them later if Skulla would somehow complete the entire game. That's really getting ahead of myself though; we'll have to wait and see what happens.

In contrast, the Outer Cloister was very calm, one boss but so routine he wasn't even worth writing down. That was good, because Skulla needed a break.

The Smith was really close to the entrance of the Barracks, closest I've ever seen actually. He was Extra Strong/Stone Skin, so that meant LR to cut through his physical resistance (IM didn't do much). Really easy fight, actually, with no other monsters to run interference. There was one crazy room in the middle of the Barracks, featuring a dangerous CEB/Fanaticism rogue boss (who reflected herself to death almost instantly), which was immediately followed by an LEB/Magic Resistant rogue, immediately followed by four skeleton mage champs, immediately followed by a Cursed/FEB rogue. All this in a single room, practically on top of one another! Skulla got it done OK, but it was tough going, a lot of cursing and raising minions. This extended fight also put him over the next level, to 43 with another point into Mastery (@13+3). Skulla also turned up his sixth useless unique of the act: Sander's Riprap dropped AGAIN!

Jail 1 had a quartet of skeleton mage bosses, who were handled pretty easily with LR. The worst was FEB/Multishot (immune to fire) - thank goodness Skulla now had decent fire resistance. Jail 2 had a tremendous mob of monsters, fortunately all stuck within a cage for easy disposal:

There were three boss packs in there! Two devilkin bosses and a skeletal mage that was Spectral Hit/FEB. Skulla cast Golly + IM, and watched them all kill themselves (eventually - a lot of Gollys died in there!) Later on the floor, Skulla conducted the whole Pitspawn Fouldog fight from behind a door; I never even saw his third ability. That was the safest way to do things, and you don't mess around with any Cursed boss! Jail 3 had more archer bosses, fortunately faced one at a time rather than together. Skulla had plenty of practice in facing archers by now, so these were routine.

The Cathedral featured a Might/Cursed tainted boss... named Viper Shield the Tainted! This was another dangerous fight, with two different boss abilities increasing the melee damage of the minions. DV was a lifesaver here, freeze them in place (as shown) and rely on the mages. Bone Ash drew Teleportation, which meant a very quick death. There were also some more shaman champs (now dark ones instead of devilkin), who were pretty easy once their minions were all raised as skeletons.

The biggest problem in the Catacombs came from Skulla's minions themselves. They simply would not refrain from running all over the place, including opening doors that Skulla most definitely did NOT want to be opened! It's very frustrating to be in complete control of a battle, only to have a skeleton run over to the side and throw open the door to a new mob. The skeletons also get stuck on doors a lot, and then they get teleported to Skulla's position - only the teleport often puts them on the other side of a wall, and then they open MORE doors to get back to Skulla. Argh! This might sounds funny (and it is, in one sense) but it's damned dangerous too. Not the sort of thing that you want to be messing around with in Hardcore.

An absolutely packed room on Cats 1 (pictured above) had a dark one shaman boss (FEB/LEB), a shaman champ pack, and a boss pack of rat men. Quite a hairball. Skulla's only choice was to go DV all the way, even though it wouldn't work on the boss/champs, and then raise each minion as a skeleton warrior the minute they hit the floor. He went through about four mana potions in a row before clearing out this room. Rest of the level was easy, fortunately. Cats 2 was also relatively quiet, the toughest boss was a Conviction/LEB spider that killed off the whole army. This one had to be killed with IM + Golly, and Skulla rebuilt a new army using the spider minions without having to retreat back to earlier in the act. Cats 3 had mostly zombies and vampires - pretty easy draw, since both were slow. There were several champ zombie packs, but much like the devilkin bosses earlier, they were still only zombies! A Multishot/Stone Skin tainted boss forced a retreat to the Stony Field, but ONLY because zombies wandered into the fight and flanked the army. I've already mentioned how even a few enemies doing that can wreck the entire formation, and compound the danger many times over.

This brought Skulla to Cats 4, and the final battle of the act. Andariel had wiped the army with ease back in Normal, so I hoped to put up a better performance this time around. Skulla managed to slay the foes in the room with the blood pool with only minimal usage of corpses. That boded well for raising more mages in the fight with Andy herself. I had already swapped Skulla over to one of his alternate amulets in stash (Iratha's Collar amulet: 30% poison resist, -75% poison duration) which maxed out his poison resist. It was time to get the fight started!

Andariel no longer comes out after the player in D2X, so Skulla ventures into her chamber with minions in tow. Well, Andy's room had the absolute WORST monster draw I've ever seen in there in my years of playing this game. No fewer than THREE different zombie boss packs in there, all surrounding the demon queen. I knew immediately that that was a hopeless fight, so I wrote off the army and lured Andy back to the room with the blood pool, managing to save two mages by portaling out and returning to the fight. But in that one moment of going to town, the game cleaned up every corpse on Cats 4! Argh! So much for my mage replacements!

As such, IM and Golly had to do pretty much all of the work by themselves. This is the only picture I was able to get of the fight, and it wasn't even a good one (this was in one of the intervals between Golly's death and a recasting). On the plus side, IM was reflecting a LOT of damage now, and Andy beat herself to death very quickly. I wish the mages could have done a bit more, oh well. At least Skulla himself was only targeted once, and he had enough footspeed to run away easily.

Of course, the rest of the floor still remained to be cleared:

In addition to the the Extra Strong/LEB and Cursed/Extra Fast zombies pictured here, there was a third one I didn't get the traits for. What a bad draw, never seen that many bosses in Andariel's chamber. It's rare even to get one showing up there in Nightmare. A fitting end to Act I, perhaps, one that had been full of difficult fights and tough draws throughout. Still, Skulla's breathing and his life never even fell to half at any point in time, so I guess I shouldn't complain. At least Act II doesn't have nearly so many deathtrap areas for Hardcore characters (Viper 2 is far and away the worst).

And maybe Skulla will actually get a unique he can USE for a change!