The Aventures of Zarqa – Act 2 normal.

The forest…I kill a pack of monkeys and instantly spawn 2 degen/haste beyond packs. NOPE. I run all the way to town (metaphorical tail very much between my legs) NOTE: this was before the nerf to those mobs.

 

I manage to pick up a +40 life belt, which I transmute to get 14% increased flask duration, nice and…+3 armour. whoopee.

 

I’m lvl17 by the time I reach crossroads waypoint. I grab the lightning walker and frost walker nodes, because they both give 15% resistance, which will help me a lot as I level (and technically increase the damage of added lightning etc, although that’s a very, VERY minor benefit) and once (if) I get overcapped resists, I can use some respec points on them.

 

A bit of vendor wrangling gets me  a +1 fire wand with B-B-G all linked sockets: fire trap, fireball + added lightning. (will swap fireball with flamesurge). I also manage to augment 5% cast speed on it, which is pretty nice.

 

I head to chamber of sins and pick up a chaos flask, which should be handy for the weaver fight and the boss on floor 1 (plaguewretch? his name escapes me) just as I get a charge on my chaos flask, another one drops, this one blue and with quality, guess the game really wants me to have chaos resist.

The unique drops a blue coral amulet, which on a whim I ID, and I’m glad I did, 4 life per second (which I’m fairly sure is the max) 5% spell damage and 10 dex – which I need for firetrap, decent amulet overall.

On the second floor of sins I meet Elreon again and feed a totem some souls. Elreon is now halfway to level 3, shouldn’t be too long until i get my hideout.

Black death…this guy can be really deadly with the new version of viper strike, thankfully the chaos resist flask makes it a much easier fight.

Upon entering the third floor I see a zone door that I can’t enter, I suspect tora is about somewhere, time to search the level, I quite quickly find the entrance to fidelitas’ lair (you can tell because it’s a long narrow corridor) but I want to find tora first, I’m not sure I’ll have much use for her crafting stuff, but I might as well get it. I find her in the very last unexplored room on this floor, typically. I “track” the animals down to the den, and enter. It’s full of exploding chaos beetles, without a doubt the amethyst flask saves my life.

With that sorted it’s time to take on fidelitas, he puts up a brave fight (poor fidelitas) but in the end, he drops, portal back to town and…FLAME SURGE, aww yeah. I swap out the +1 cold gems wand for a 15% spell dmg shield I pick up from gruest, hunter of boars. I now have a wand with flame surge, fire trap and added lightning (all linked) in my main hand, with the shield in my offhand, time to go test out the spell (I’ve never used it before). I run to the west and kill a few mobs, spawning some beyonders, one fire trap + flame surge takes them all out, colour me impressed. I keep heading west and run into tail slinger, who dies in a firetrap + 2 flame surge hits, this spell is way stronger than I expected. In the weavers I run into catarina, and get a very short and easy mission, I head into the weavers nest and I’m honestly a bit worried, I have very little armour. It was worry over nothing, chaos flask + fire trap/flamesurge combo and I kill her before she even manages to retreat to the ceiling, this is a scarily effective spell.

In the western forest I make short work of alira, I have to say, the AoE on flamesurge is much wider and less problematic than I imagined. Captain arteri and his blackguards drop like flies, that’s another free passive point!

I go through the vaal ruins and head up to oak to grab my +40 life, which he won’t give me…then I remember that I forgot to take care of kraiytn for him, I go and correct that, (he puts up even less of a fight than alira or arteri). He does drop a wand I’d normally be delighted to have, 16% implicit and 38% spell damage roll as well as mana and some other useful stats, sadly it’s a rare…so to the vendor it goes. I head back to oak to get the +40 life.

I quickly run through the waterfall caves (I really don’t like this place to tend to run past everything and get to the ancient pyramid asap).

I’m scaling the ancient pyramid when I find a chaos orb, handy! not two minutes later, another drops! Shame I don’t have anything to spend them on just yet. Blazing through the ancient pyramid I get overconfident and an some beyond flamesurgers take me down to 30hp, I quickly back off and regen health, and then fling firetraps like a madwoman, it seems to work.

I manage to find catarina again, not too far off level 3 with her either, exciting! Here goes vaal…

so, uhmm, the vaal oversoul just sort of falls apart, and I beat him handily. That is honestly the quickest I’ve ever beaten a level appropriate vaal. I’m starting to think flame surge is really quite strong. He drops me a shield with a total of 46% spell damage on, sadly it’s a level 28 requirement so I can’t wear it just yet, but soon…soon.

Onwards to Act 3…

The Aventures of Zarqa – Act 1 Normal

It starts on the beach, as always. I’ve decided to kill stuff to level up to 2 before fighting hillock, not because he’s hard, but because I need items. I want quite a few wisdom scrolls when I get into town. I get lucky and get some scrolls drop, and an Iron ring, which I’ll use to turn into a resistance ring (iron ring + blue/red/green gem = cold/fire/lightning res ring). I’ll then use those rings to craft a +1 to fire gems wand.

 

Hillock dies…and drops a thousand ribbons. I wish I was joking. way to mock me game, way to mock me. The game then immediately makes up for that trollish start by nessa selling me a 30 life coral ring (max roll) as well as a +1 to cold gems wand for 2 scrolls of wisdom. Sadly I don’t get flamesurge until lvl19 (intruders in black quest) and so will have to use something else to level with until then, so I will be use freezing pulse, as it’s nice and defensive thanks to the chill and possible freeze, and now I can make it even stronger.(spells generally scale very well with gem levels)

 

I set off into the coast with a superior iron hat (because I’ll probably hoard superior gear for a while to trade in for whetstones/armourer’s scraps). +30 life ring and a +1 cold gems wand with freeze pulse in. Nice.

 

Into mud flats at level 3, on a normal character I’d just run the entire first act in 45mins or so, knowing I could just find some rares along the way, or use some of my previously built up currency/gear if I needed to, not so here. Therefor I’ve decided to go a bit slower and try and build up a currency base, as well as slightly overlevelling for the zones, to help combat my “poor” gear.

after grabbing the mudflats waypoint, it’s quickly back to tidal island. After killing hailrake, if you’ve grabbed the mud flats WP (and I have) you can log off, log back in again, grab your reward and port back into the mud flats quicker than you could run, and save yourself a portal scroll. (racing technique, that one). Talking of rewards, I grabbed a quicksilver (Mmm movement speed) and fire trap.

I find a blacksmith’s whetstone; thankfully, weapon damage doesn’t matter to this build, so I can vendor any blacksmiths whetstones I get for scrolls (the vendors occasionally want them in payment, but I want the scrolls more as I’ll likely be ID’ing a lot more stuff than usual)

in the lower submerged passage I encounter my first beyond spawn; flamesurgers. They knock off half my health very quickly, but I retreat and wear them down with fire traps, throwing freeze pulses to keep them chilled and slow them down. They drop my first rare item, which will obviously be vendored, they were also kind enough to drop 2 medium life flasks.

 

I head back to town when I find the waypoint and check nessa. RNGesus loves me today, she has a + 1 fire gems wand for 2 scrolls of wisdom. booya!. sadly it’s red-green linked sockets, which isn’t ideal, but it’s nice for fire trap. I also find a pair of boots with life and cold resist on.

 

On ledge I meet my first forsaken master: Elreon, how brave am I feeling? brave enough to try the mission? after quickly grabbing a nearby ES chest that was lying about i feel confident enough to give it a go.

I get lucky yet again, it’s the mission to destroy the 3 corrupted relics, which I tend to find easier than the static defense mission. This success also means I’ll have a new vendor in town, awesome (can’t access a hideout until I get one of the masters to lvl 3, and you can’t invite others into your hideout unless they’re lvl2+)

 

In the climb I run into a small problem: not enough dex to level fire trap, darn. Back to town to buy a jade amulet from nessa. An ornate strongbox, yay, but I’m very low on id scrolls…do I dare risk opening it blind? I do. +3 magic items. rngesus really, really likes me today. I ID one of the chest armours I get, strength + mana, not great, but better than nothing

 

in upper prison I run into Haku, excellent! more masters for town. The totems in his missions at low levels are very dangerous, so I carefully time my movements to dodge them all.

Brutus goes down without too much trouble (although a lucky stun from a falling cage + ground slam combo scares me a fair bit). Grab clarity as a reward.

Prisoner’s gate goes without incident. as does ship graveyard and coast (I tend to just run straight through graveyard and coast).

Grabbed an added lightning from nessa, and picked up a +20 ES belt with less flask charges used, which is nice.

 

At this point I’m going back to do the dweller of the depths and fairgraves. Normally I’d do them as I encounter them, but with the addition of beyond mobs, I didn’t want to risk it until I was a bit higher level. Turns out this was a good option, as I had several groups of beyond mobs spawn in the flooded depths, and dealing with then a few levels earlier would have been very long winded and quite dangerous.

 

I get lucky and find 2 sapphire rings on the way to merveil, and quickly nip back to town to get some large flasks.

 

Merveils lair is in sight, when from the corner of the map I hear…”God bless you on this fine day exile..”. Do I dare?

 

It’s a timed relic defense, and it’s going pretty well, until about 15 seconds remain, when the suicide mobs start spawning, and I’m taken down to 20hp. PANIC. the timer expires, the remaining mobs die and I breathe a sigh of relief, that was dangerously close. I could have got a party in to help, but that sort of defeats the point of this character, I want to solo as much as possible.

Onwards to merveil!

Merveil’s new fight is great,you can’t just stand there wailing on her, you actually have to move around and think about dealing with her children (now there’s a sentence you don’t hear every day). It’s a pretty tense fight, but i emerge victorious, nothing of interest drops.

Act 2 awaits!

The Adventures of Zarqa – A solo, self-found, blue items only beyond character.

The Preamble

So, for those who don’t know (i.e. most people); I’m attempting a solo, self-found, blue items only hardcore run. I know it’s technically possible to “beat” the game this way, noRegret has done it (as well as many others I’m sure) but that’s not really what this run is about. What I want to know is how difficult it is compared to the “normal” way of playing, and more importantly: How does it change your playstyle? 

So to begin with, I’m going to explain the build I’m going to use:

I’m going for a flamesurge and firetrap witch (thanks to krabbsatan on reddit for the idea!). I did want to make it a templar originally, but then I remembered that they don’t get fire trap. At all. I don’t fancy relying on one dropping, given how vital it is to the build.

 The basic idea of the build is that you use the burning ground (and occasional ignite) from fire trap to utilise the “50% MORE damage” on flamesurge and spell, fire + ele damage nodes will affect both. I’ll be going life instead of CI as I highly doubt I’ll get enough ES with only 1 prefix and 1 suffix per item, most likely I will end up doing a bit of a armour/es hybrid. I think for self found witch and shadow would both be viable, but I’ve made a lot of shadows recently, so time to give the witch a go. I’ve not fleshed out a complete/final tree for this, as I’m not quite sure the kind and severity of problems I’m going to encounter from my gear + gem restrictions, so outside of some basics (making sure I can get life, etc) I’ll pretty much create it as I go along, adapting to my needs.


I’ve done this on an effectively new account. I’ve used it before to give waypoints to my main account, but it hasn’t met any of the Forsaken masters, and has no items in it’s stash (just the basic 4 non-premium stash tabs), so is basically a new account but with some achievements and the scion unlocked (not that it makes any difference for this run). This is so it’s easier to keep an eye on how much currency I’ve got, but also so I don’t accidentally spend any at vendors, also so I have to only play with the default 4 tabs.

So, let it begin…