Best way to survive in Very Hard - **** ?

CampaignerCampaigner Posts: 23
edited August 2014 in Vanquisher Discussions
I'm on my 4th Vanquisher now cause my last three died....
She died a bit needlessly cause I was running around using Stab and trying be close to the enemies to prove to myself that I don't have to be as far away as possible. As you can read, that worked out great....:cry:

Thing is, I was lvl 19 or 20 on floor 16 (6 lvls above enemies!!), had 80-90 defense with lots of armor and +HP on items but she still couldn't take more 4 hits before dieing....

It's always the same thing. If the enemies are close in a cramped area, I get stressed and may die. Wind of Justice buys me like two seconds and I may have to continually use it since half the mob gets stunned and the other half charges at me. Drains my mana to.
Stab work against single enemies bu it gets me into the horde of enemies which might kill me.

So is the Vanquisher a complete glasscannon like the Demon Hunter in Diablo III that should stay away from enemies as much as possible?

I'm using Explosive Shot, Wind of Justice and Flachette Trap (haven't tried the higherlvl things yet.)


  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727
    Vanquisher is DESIGNED as a shooter. You should get used to her (and to the environment/mobs) in that mode before you try a full run as a melee Vanq.

    Stab is Not a popular Skill. Probably the Great Killer among the Rogue Skills is Venomous Dirks, which can also be a substitute/suplliment for WoJ. Many melee Vanq folks also swear by Hamstring, if not as a Killer, then as a Great Escape tool. Nothing is faster than Hamstring, while it lasts. The dart fan thing is pretty good in the earlier levels.

    But be a shooter first, then expand your scope on the next girl.

    Use your traps...a lot. Just keep at least one a full throw ahead of you at all times.

    Never ignore building up you Def. It doesn't have to be the majority of your Attribute points, but it should be 1 or 2 on every promotion. Upgrade your Armor and Res and Blockage at every opportunity.

    Vanqs need to hit without being hit. If you are going to go melee Vanq, either do a combo with a shield to increase your percent of Blocks, or get a pole arm and learn the timing to use it as a very short ranged weapon. In either case, learn to hit then dance away.

    Keep fish on Hotkey. Feed them to your pet during melee, to keep the pet healthy and in battle ahead of you, running interference and thinning the mobs that pass on to attack you directly. Keeping the pet in the fight is more important than whatever form the pet takes...but of the common forms Burrower and Goblinhound are probably the best battle help. In a lot of ways, Goblinhound may be better than any of the Elementals.

    Put some Shimmering Fish Scales on your pets trinkets. The increased HP recovery will tend to keep the pet in battle even when it looks like s/he is out of health.

    For a melee Vanq, Dark Zealots are going to be a real problem. You will need to use AOE Skills/Spells on them at the limit of vision, rely on your pet to take them down, rely on popping traps in their rooms, and, lastly, maybe kite them one at a time then reverse your run to whack the advanced one down. Luckily they are 'fairly' fragile. Get your Elec Res way up, over 500.

    Dragonkin and Ember Mycons may be a problem, too, with their breath weapons. Also prioritize Fire Res, but don't rely on it. They are slow, unlike DZs. Dash in, hit get out. Also work the traps and AOE Skills/Spells.

    And again...Ven Dirks is a great equalizer. Of course, that may be because it is in effect a multi-warhead homing target-penetrating ranged weapon.

  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    I know from reading his (?) posts that dreamrider is a lot more experienced at **** play than me, in truth I've only tried one VH:HC toon so far and that was a Destroyer. I did manage to finish the campaign with him by virtue of the fact I knew what to expect and what was most important to compromise on with skills and stats. And that's the thing with Torchlight, it is a viciously cheap game, essentially HC is an elaborate Russian roulette simulator, don't have any illusions to the contrary, you're just rolling the dice, or spinning the chamber.

    I cannot agree about the DEF points though, armor and resistances are a lie in this game. Just do the math on the worst case example of Dark Zealot lightning attacks. If they can routinely one-shot you from full health at over 3000 HP (we're just talking campaign levels here) then how much difference do you think a couple hundred extra points of deduction are going to do? Even 500 resistance takes a serious investment (or incredible luck/exploitation) to reach, whereas an extra 1000 or more HP is relatively easy to prioritize, and will serve you FAR better on average. Again, defense is a lie. But a dead Zealot can't hit you... hopefully even once. The old axiom holds very true in Torchlight, not just sometimes, nearly always, the best defense is a powerful offense. Or sometimes maybe a powerful "Silence". ;)

    Anyway I have a plan for the Vanq I will be trying for VH:HC, and it will NOT be melee focused, without any damage mitigation skills it's just plain masochistic. I agree with most of dreamrider's other suggestions, especially about Hamstring, but personally I'd say practice some with a softcore toon, unless you do actually like the pain. It's just such a misleading game in so many ways, if you're lucky and enemy damage rolls low and your defense rolls high it can seem like what you're doing works like a charm... until your luck runs out and you die instantly instead and you didn't even see how. It is an inherently cheap system, all about engineered bad luck.
  • JibakuJibaku Posts: 119
    Dreamrider has some of the best most solid advice you'll ever need to play through VHHC, especially for Vanquishers, and enjoy yourself.

    Ranged abilities can be baited and dodged. Melee attacks too actually now that I think about it. The A.I can be predicted and controlled. By control I mean predicting their patterns based on your location in relation to them and using that to force their actions for your favor.
    For example you know that as soon as they 'see' you (you see them) that melee mobs will rush to you and when close enough stop to begin their attack at which gives you plenty of time to move out of the way, completely avoiding damage. The same with ranged attacks and abilities, as soon as you are in range they begin their attack animation and you can retreat out the way.

    Pure damage prevention stats can be picked up. Missile Reflect and Block stats are very effective at preventing damage. I remember reading a post on this forum that the Dark Zealot lightning attacks can be blocked.

    It's possible to easily have at least 60% Missile Reflect and 20% Block with a ranged character. The shield 'Solitude' has 75% Missile Reflect and 12% Block (and +1200 HP!!! with resistances and armor!!!) which benefits melee characters greatly.

    I'm not sure I would have gone so far to describe Torchlight as viciously cheap, yea there's a lot of dice rolling, chance/luck, involved but you can still do things to influence things into your favor.
    allard01 wrote:
    i had never known about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up as more as now I got. Such a beautiful topic to aware the people about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up.
    "Such a beautiful topic to aware the people"
  • CampaignerCampaigner Posts: 23
    When I read your answers I wondered where the **** you got the idea I was going for a melee Vanquisher. Then it dawned on me. Stab.

    I'm trying my damndest to stay away from enemies but I don't want to be afraid of getting close to them cause then I'll panic and maybe press the wrong button. I use Stab so I don't have to back down ALL the time. If not using Stab then Wind of Justice?

    My main problem is when enemies get close (especially in cramped areas) and I don't know what to do except for running away, using Stab and/or Wind of Justice. Problems with those are:
    [*]Stab gets me into melee range and I often get hit by some other enemy in the horde
    [*]Wind of Justice blows away half the enemies so have to use it often and got a hard time getting shots of.

    I'm gonna hotkey #6 to a mousebutton for sushi. Can press the wrong button when I'm stressed.

    This is my hotkeybar from an earlier (read: DEAD) Vanquisher:NkJ0cXe.png

    I haven't used Frost Pilum for like 3 characters. Currently use Ricochet then Explosive shot. Not sure what to use.

    #3 is Wind of Justice so I can easily reach it
    #4 is the trap hotkey
    #5 I think it's kinda useful
    #6 cause I don't have room in #1 - #5. Gonna put this on a side mousebutton
    #7 Spell
    #8 Spell (will be later)
    #9 Fish
    #10 Townportal (absolutely CANNOT risk having it use mana)

    If you got any suggestions then say them :)
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Okay I think I do have some suggestions, but also maybe some questions about your gear choices. What weapons do you like to use? I know it's HC and so you're probably just rolling with whatever you have that's powerful, but I think you've given an idea of your play style you actually want, and I respect that, I also have to feel like the character makes sense for my own style to really have fun. But I also tend to experiment with every play style I can think of in these games, and personalize my characters more than just asking what the "best" way to play is, so take this as you will.

    At some point I found myself dividing the skills of the classes roughly in half, and playing them as two exclusive styles, and there's a bunch of other OCD symmetries with the classes, gear and spells but I won't embarrass myself with all of that here now. However my sort of prime Vanquisher style may be close to what you're asking about. But first I will answer your original question in light of the clarification you gave, YES you shouldn't willingly let enemies get any more chances to hit you than necessary, which with a Vanq means keeping distance. So just accept it. But having said that, I think I also share your sentiment about wanting to be able to hold your ground and not just run away all the time, as long as you're clear that you DO need to run away routinely.

    Now, Wind of Justice is a great skill, but creating distance is the whole point of it. And of course if you can't afford to spam it when necessary you do have to run still. Stab on the other hand is probably the weakest Vanq skill hands down, I don't want to say worst because it can be useful, but it's very slow, very unsafe, and offensively very weak. So either deal with and commit to using it and accepting all it's drawbacks or forget about it completely. But there is an alternative to both those skills. If you're okay with using pistols, then equip a melee weapon in the left hand with knockback and ideally HP leech mods, don't even worry about damage too much because it's not for offense. So if your used to using normal attacks routinely, you can get into a good rhythm of knowing what to use when and against what, that works very well because the melee attack activates automatically when enemies are in range and with the knockback will keep them from swarming you too much. Now, one of the most overlooked Vanq skills seems to be Needle Arc, because it's not very strong and doesn't impressed right away, but it has a real synergy with this style, very few enemies can get or stay in the danger range if you learn how to use it.

    So that's my advice, give it a shot once or twice, grab a pistol and a mace, forget about both Stab and Wind and rank up the Arc to at least the 5 shots and see how you like it. And yes Venomous Dirks and Hamstring fit especially well with the style, probably Explosive and Seeking shots are the best weapon skill combo, though I use Ricochet instead of Seek with this build for more aesthetic reasons, and if you're going to use one trap Flechette is all round the best, easily.
  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727
    I heartily endorse chiploop's comments & recommendations, if your style is you want to 'stand your ground' when closed, rather than always scoot n' shoot (kite).

    Needle Arc IS underrated. It can be a fine up close Skill if pumped up a bit.

    WoJ is not intended to be a killer, just a breather.
    Unless you want to go all the way and totally specialize your character in Cold. I keep meaning to try this, with lots of Cold Ember, Ice Dragonne in hand, Ice Pilium and WoJ as main Skills. With an extra 70-100% Cold damage, WoJ and Ice Pilium might be pretty fearsome, and a lot of fun.

    Regards the comments about health over DEF. I frankly admit that I have always had an aesthetic preference for armor over health buffs. Can't say exactly why; possibly a combo of an aversion to the HP Heirlooming bug (which was the big talk of the forums at the time I started TL), with a general distaste for steroid use, especially by women. ( :D Hey, I didn't say it made any SENSE, it just a personal foible.)

    Result is I seldom even think of the efficacy of health buffs. I get plenty of them, since I highly enchant all gear I use, but they are just sort of a background bennie for me. In truth, I focus mainly on not getting hit. I like fast rifles and crossbows to kill as much as possible of the opposition before it ever gets to danger close. I like Arrow Hail, because it kills all the way across the screen, and behind doors, on ledges etc. It is also pretty good for calling down on yourself if you get trapped in a mob - it won't hurt you or the pet, and most mobs just stop, shudder, and either instantly or eventually die if they are being pounded by waves of arrows.

    BTW, there is now reason that you can not use a good high damage rifle or crossbow at point-blank range. Just stay calm an shoot them 1m away, while they are raising that claw. if you've got some knockback on the weapon, it may even move them back out of strike range. (Except trolls.) The keep shooting until dead, or shoot some other close guys.


    PS - dang, I love the variety possible in the play of this game.

    PPS - Hey, Jibaku. Congrats on finding Solitude...but you can't really recommend it as a tactic for everyone...considering that it is probably the rarest shield there IS! :lol:
  • JibakuJibaku Posts: 119
    dreamrider!! I have *TWO* of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    allard01 wrote:
    i had never known about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up as more as now I got. Such a beautiful topic to aware the people about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up.
    "Such a beautiful topic to aware the people"
  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727

    I just looked. I collect 2 of all Unique shields, and some Rares. I only have 1 Solitude, from thousands of hours of play and gambling.
    I do NOT have the Epic Solitude...and I NEED one for my collection!

    Now, with two in your inventory here is something you can do, if you are willing to sacrifice one of them to produce a truly Legendary bit of gear.

    Take both shields with you on a few runs through your cleaned out main dungeon, visiting all the re-spawned Shrines in sequence. Take note of what floors they are on, and use the Waygates to shorten the in-between legs. Then cycle through them again, and again. (If you visit more than 3-4 other floors before returning to the earliest Shrines, the levels should re-spawn each time.)

    Enchant each shield alternately. As soon as one shield fails enchantment, STOP. With moderate luck, you should now have a Solitude that has about 12-15 layers of enchantment, including really enourmous +HP.

    (Actually, since the basic +x to block is one of the few affixes that does not disappear upon disenchantment on most items, you may still have a pretty nice shield with the failed one. You could re-enchant it at your leisure.)


    PS - I don't have an Epic Solitude, but I do have a Lvl 26 Rare shield with at total of +18% to Block. Its only a singleton however, so I have been afraid to enchant it. :roll:

  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Just on the topic of HP and DEF, I felt a lot of personal frustration with this game early on, which made me investigate to the point of reaching those conclusions, so I stand by them in this respect...

    Consider this scenario: you've spent those two points per level on DEF for an extra 60 by level 30 or so, with the best gear you've been able to find you have an impressive looking 400-800 armor. You meet a Blood Disciple's charging attack that rolls high and crit's for 3500, your armor rolls low and deducts 400 from that, and with your respectable HP of 3000... YOU STILL DIE. But in that same situation giving no priority to defense and with only about half the armor, simply choosing one extra 300+ HP mod on your gear means you live to hit back. And an extra 30-40% damage from those reclaimed stat points will usually count for a lot more.

    But don't get me too wrong here, I'm not saying defense is useless, it's just a lie. A Frost Shield using Destroyer committed to playing tank style is obviously a different story, but even there I'd still say offense > defense as a rule. And some specific cases, like the physical damage chest trap (you know, the only really dangerous one) cannot be overcome with HP only, but ranged damage reflection counts for much more than armor, or just moving out of the way REALLY FAST, which is what I am now in the firm habit of preparing for with either Haste and/or Hamstring, as soon as I hear the warning. ;)

    Also poison resist can be worth it just for the Zealots, but again a high reflect % is even better, which I'd say is an even bigger consideration for going with a shield than blocking, since that's the easiest way to get good reflect values.
  • JibakuJibaku Posts: 119
    You can prevent a lot of damage from ocuring by 'having quick feet', predicting and moving out the way of attacks.
    Chest's can be checked to see if they are Mimics by shooting/damaging them from a distance.
    Treating all chests as if they are traps with 'touch and run' serves as a good habit, though you are aware of that already.
    allard01 wrote:
    i had never known about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up as more as now I got. Such a beautiful topic to aware the people about arcane alchemist gear - lvl 40 and up.
    "Such a beautiful topic to aware the people"
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    So yeah as dreamrider said playing with the intent of never taking any hits at all is almost the only sane path for a Vanquisher. Obviously that's not always possible, but since in my experience it's the same big-bad-luck-hits that end up dropping you anyway, it's going to be a very rare occurrence that any moderate extra defense makes the difference. So it's become all or nothing with me, that HC Destroyer was a pure DEF build exploiting the Thorns bonus, because I figured I could at least be immune from the worst case one-shot bad luck, which proved to be true, but seriously it only served to confirm what I'm talking about: even with every point in DEF, a Frost Shield maintained at all times, and the HP of a Destroyer, I routinely saw over half his HP get taken instantly. I was also playing straight through the campaign with no twinking of any sort, but still. Made for an epic Ordrak battle, took me over an hour since he was so weak on damage and only level 29, trembling by the end but I was NOT going to blow it at the finish line! :)
  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727
    When recommending generic Attribute point allocation, I always say 1-2 Def per level, because that fits the forum 'Def heads' consensus over the years.

    I actually consistently only allocate 1 Def - 4 <primary>. I find that to be plenty of Def buffing, combined with good gear selection, good player agility, aggressive gear enchantment, and massive, long ranged offense. :D

    But I WANT that 1 continuing Def buff, because otherwise one minor critter (skeleton? enslaved?) who gets through or comes up behind can spoil your day.

    BTW, are you SURE that % Mis Reflect will turn Red Lightning?? Over the years, I became convinced that it did not, but have never been absolutely certain. I have seen it Blocked, however.

  • CampaignerCampaigner Posts: 23
    chiploop wrote:
    So yeah as dreamrider said playing with the intent of never taking any hits at all is almost the only sane path for a Vanquisher. Obviously that's not always possible, but since in my experience it's the same big-bad-luck-hits that end up dropping you anyway, it's going to be a very rare occurrence that any moderate extra defense makes the difference.

    That makes the game cheap since if you invest in Defense then you should be able to reap the rewards from it. Having it be all or nothing like early Diablo III Demon Hunter on Inferno where a champion crit KILLS you is just :gives the game the finger and uninstalls:

    They should have done it like Diablo II where a Sorceress CAN get lots of health (and survive more hits) if she chooses to invest in it. The irony here is that Defense in theory atleat gives you exactly that but if the monsters do too much damage then it's broken just like Diablo IIIs Demon Hunter.
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Campaigner, yeah I don't want to sour your take on it any more than the reality, but I've been there several times, right on the verge of deleting characters like: can this REALLY be worth putting up with?!? I respect the people who want to play only ****, but I cannot imagine how anyone could make it through the campaign on VHHC much less max level without close to a hundred attempts or following some cookie cutter template. Neither of which are for me, so I just wanted to give you a hopefully clearer idea of the kind of "challenge" this is.

    The tragedy is it really does seem like the design started out with a somewhat inspired sense of balance, but the simplistic damage model got out of control at some point, and the existence of things like the Frost Shield only skewed perceptions even more. I gather that one of the last revisions increased the damage from a lot of enemies, because many felt the game wasn't challenging, but what it leaves is a game that still doesn't feel challenging most of the time, you just die whenever it decides to kill you. /sigh

    So dreamrider I'm also sure missile reflect (sorry for being sloppy before, that is of course the correct term) does not help against Zealot lightning. That was only in reference to the poison fan attack, and generally attacks that are dangerous for the number of hits rather than the power of a single hit, since in that case armor/resist is also effectively multiplied by the number of hits, and therefore counts for more.

    I have a suggestion and reply to your earlier posts on a more positive note though, I'll follow up in a bit...
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    If you really wanted to mix it up sometime dreamrider a magic Vanquisher is a blast, might even be my favorite play style. I think of it as my "Rogue Sorceress", though almost any skills are still viable, but to start with the obvious 4 are the magic boosted skills: Lightning Bomb; Stab; WoJ and Hamstring. You mentioned the Ice Dragonne rifle, which since it's pure elemental a stock ID will actually output higher damage from Magic than from Dexterity so you can still use Frost Pilum or whatever. But of course the essential skill, THE reason to go that route is Lightning Bomb.

    It gets the highest stat bonus of any skill for starters (150%!) but don't let the numbers it shows you fool you, it is the closest thing Torchlight has to a Frozen Orb if you know what that means. Against larger mobs it can hit simultaneously with I think at least 6 'spikes' from the blast, plus damage boosters actually multiply that number, unlike with DPS skills, so imagine what you're actually getting from that nominal 2-3k.

    And this isn't theory, from using it I think there's something more to it than that, I don't think any other characters I've tried can kill trolls as fast as using that one skill. It is arguably the strongest magic attack in the game.

    Edit: I was unconsciously importing stat conventions from a completely different game I was also playing a lot recently, oops.
  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727
    Hmm - interesting. I'll give that at try.

    In regard to getting through the game on VHHC. Yes, it can be done.

    I have this personal goal of a 'perfect run' - I define that as getting through the Main Quest and all the way to c-lvl 100/55 without dying once, while entering all Phase portals, Hatch Quests, and Mysterious Maps as soon as possible, and no dups or file manipulation resurrections.

    I've never done that. Not in now 385 dedicated attempts.

    However, I have gotten well into the c-lvl 90's about 3 times; I think c-lvl 96 was my highest 'virgin death'. I have completed the Main Quest in VHHC under the above conditions about 8-10 times.

    It helps a lot if you keep your c-level 4-7 levels above the current level of the Main Quest, using some low-middle level map runs to add some experience if necessary. Low level maps do top out in the level of created monsters, eventually; the monsters in the 1-10 maps top out at about 21, IIRC. I also focus on a lot of +%XP gear, so I am usually at about c-lvl 40-42 when I finish Ordrak's cave.

  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    R.I.P. Lightspeed, 1-23. I knew you not as long as I should...

    Well I'd been thinking about it a while so after this exchange I had to go for it. Here's the story in a nutshell:

    She was almost perfectly pacing the enemy level the whole time, one early phase dungeon was the mines (phew!) nothing more till level 21 and campaign floor 25, in the Fortress, the second phase portal leads to... the Palace, OF COURSE. I hear the duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh music and think: "oh well, I'm screwed". BUT she is not resigned to fate yet, and she will have an honorable death no matter what! And it is the 'C' dungeon, and yeppers, there's two Zealots and at least 3 Disciples on the attack from frame one of the spawn [and this is NOT an exaggeration] only good thing is there's no champion at least so... after about 20 seconds of frantic running and WoJ spamming... She is still alive?!?

    Okay, but I can't get my hopes up, that was like a one in ten fluke, if that, She is probably not going to make it out of here alive, and sure enough as soon as I clear the rest of the upper level the champion is a Zealot... BUT She does have a Silence and she has her chance to use it, yeah slash at those skeletons all you like b****, that's your last supper. NICE, all She really needs to get past now is those THREE ****ING ICE ELEMENTALS!!!

    But she does, all's quiet on the infernal front, it's OVER. The Fortress is like a cakewalk now, time to get this done and go reap some XP from all those other deferred quests before the real gauntlet, just need to face Medea and her backup dancers and take a working vacation and...

    Yep, same ol' Medea, just don't do anything too stupid, don't upstage her when she's bustin her moves, it's all good, the show is half over, and... hey I'm dead, that's not in the ****ing program!!!

    Freaking MEDEA!? I had the tiniest moment when I almost remember noticing that She suddenly had only a pixel or two of HP, but not even a fraction of a second to react. I didn't see anything, but I HEARD, and the only clue I have is that somehow she spawned all those ball lightning things right on top of Her and they detonated simultaneously, and I have never seen anything like it before.

    It actually was a good proof of concept run, but I also couldn't really have asked for a better example of why I said Torchlight is viciously cheap. THAT is how it always goes, even the most fun and empowering triumph must always be countered by the most absolute reminder that you have no actual control over your fate. Except through learning to be more cheap than the game.

    Still kind of fun, but it'll be a long rest before I try **** Vanq again. If that even happens before I say bye bye for good.
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Well hello again, even if there's no one there...

    Alright not such a long rest as it turned out, and maybe I should post this in HC forum but since it follows on from last post and since I doubt anyone actually cares here it go: Lightspeed reincarnated.

    I get into these sort of games mostly for the customization side, and experimenting with the theory:practice angle, plotting and playing lots of different styles as I've said. And I've never been a gamblin' man, since as the blues man once said, if it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all. Which is really just to say respect to you HC purists again, but I'm not like that so I'm happy to exploit softcore to safely collect all the goodies I want to see and then play around with them, just keeping score in my own soul...

    But I also like a challenge for its own sake, so I set some personal HC rules of engagement, which are not recommended as any sort of guideline, but some of it is still practical and may work as an alternative theory to the usual recommendations. So I'll set up the basic goals: first no twinking at all, this was a self sufficient run, which kind of makes it easier not to get attached to any gear. Also no 'save state' cheating - the basic exploit for the Xbox version, kind of like our ghetto version of an enchanting mod I guess? ;) - a legit run taking all the lumps as they are. My Destroyer was sort of like ironman light I guess, I played straight through the main campaign ignoring all side quests, but with a Vanq that would just be pure gambling again so I instead just set the goal as all campaign quests, but no additional grinding. So no Vault, no random maps and NO BACKTRACKING. A solid but sane challenge.

    Here's what I did allow to make things a little less heroic / massochistic. I used the troll transformation we get - I always like to wait and make my pet HULK-OUT right when Brink does actually! - which massively saves on the amount of tedium and earache of having a pet who runs around on you ALL the time. It's basically compensation for the lack of a hot button for pet feeding anyway, and it's in the game so I use it. I also gave RoveR my ilovebees right away which occasionally helps against the scariest mob rushes. And for the last XBLA perk, I stole chaos gems from Flux. But that is in line with an exploit (I assume) anyone can also use, quest reward cycling, in this case for the Hatch quests, looking for the best item you might be able to actually use. More on that later though.

    Okay so an essentially legit game, untwinked character, and no grinding. Now to the actual plan of action, and this is even more personal, because I also decided all my characters would be zero compromise on the primary stat, which in this case means every level-up five points went straight into Dexterity. And for some more long winded backstory about that... after I settled on the Destroyer and Alchemist builds I would give a shot on VHHC, which are both defensive, trying to think about a Defense Vang the only viable option is a pure Traps build, which is probably great, just way too boring but also thematically wrong, since Vanguisher is the most strictly offensive character, and the only one with a Dex bias. What that really means is I have three versions of each class to try, and Def versions of Dest and Alch makes sense since they at least have one skill with a stat bonus, but Dex does not since anything worth trying can work better with Magic anyway. So Vanquisher is the exception - as she should be - and if I had to make a glass cannon I was left thinking about how to make the safest one possible. But I had settled on four basic 'orthodox' Vanq builds, themed around each of the ranged weapons, and at some point I realized my crossbow theme made sense in a lot of non-obvious ways.

    The case for crossbows: no unique Xbows, but the strongest ones are guaranteed to be rare quality; Xbows have the longest base range, which you cannot get any other way without scoring specific unique gear; there are no fast Xbows, but because of armor values a guaranteed strong hit is usually worth more damage than faster weaker hits if it's a choice of either/or. The considerations for crossbow use: DPS skills will be progressively less impressive compared to successfully enchanting faster weapons, and the DPS skills get extended range anyway - however they cannot snipe enemies in all the situations that a normal attack can, and another concern for playing on Xbox is that the targeting for vanilla attacking is much more reliable than skill shots, as well as useful for leeching, so I find it is usually the most effective bread-and-butter tactic for many characters. This led me to the most focused, even minimalist build, without any weapon skills or even offensive traps, which seems sort of crazy but hey it worked. :)

    Needle Arc: I'm tempted to call this the best crowd control skill in the game, with a fast cast, huge spread angle and long guaranteed effect. I started off with all points going here till rank 5, where it jumps from 5 hits to 7. (I misremembered above)

    Critical Strikes: every level till maxed, this is the one big advantage Vanq and Alchy have over the Destroyer as lowbies, since it effectively doubles your average damage output. And the nice thing is there's nothing else really competing for points in this build until;

    Wind of Justice: got it and ranked it up with all extra fame points, not essential and not even used very often, but experience told me that as an emergency spam skill the combination of better stun % and power to actually kill can definitely be a lifesaver. But only fame points as levelups go to CS until;

    Adventurer: because it's mandatory, 'nuff said. Every level.

    Devouring Trap: got it and left it alone, useful enough as a OPW, and expensive enough already, with small enough gains that it doesn't seem worth further investment until much later. But it is a core of the build, one of the five true class skills taken, which leaves;

    Arrow Hail and Hamstring!

    Pretty much everything builds up to this payoff, in the short term NA gives you a great combination of security and guaranteed, weapon independent damage. The critical hits even make it an okay killer against many campaign mobs, same for WoJ, and the armor decrease from DT counts for a lot more with those little multi-hits. And as a combo NA and WoJ can be so fun, like... touch me if you can, come on, I DARE YOU! The big synergy comes with both of those together with DT and AH, and you have almost total control of pushing most mobs back into the killing field and keeping them there.

    It's a fun and engaging play style with tons of different powerful answers to different situations. As opposed to say, taking explosive shot and never wanting to do anything else... ;)

    And my favorite skill of all, Hamstring, it has one small synergy to mention with crossbows as well. Since it does 5% of "weapon damage" as opposed to DPS, you actually just want the biggest base value you can get. And even though it doesn't sound like a lot it hits insanely fast and adds up, and again the Devouring Trap can come into play. I have actually managed to stun lock Zealots to death with it. Plus with any amount of knockback you are virtually invulnerable against most melee mobs, it probably saved my life once when I got trapped on some stairs between my own troll who was facing a huge pack of zombies and skeleton warriors, and a named specter that had somehow teleported behind me. Only option was to push through the numbers rather than risk any hits from the big specter, it worked and she didn't even get a scratch. Basically Hamstring let's you move when you normally couldn't, just like Phase or Devastate. One other sparkle is how it stacks with other faster movement effects, because it locks in your current speed with its own multiplier, so even after a Haste has worn off your speed remains the same for as long as you maintain the skill. Nice with a rank one haste, you can still cruise right through a map without stopping! Oh and you can also fly over drawbridges in the Necropolis with it before they've even finished moving. lol

    Alright will be finishing this indulgence in a second post I think. The thrilling conclusion that I'm sure no one else is at all thrilled by...
  • dreamriderdreamrider Posts: 1,727
    Nice unusual build tour, chip.

    I often focus a build toward Arrow Hail, the "gift from above"...for your locked bedroom, you b***h!

    BTW, consistent Critical Strikes (I have gotten Crit chance as high as 80%+, with my "suit of lights" decorated with Very Deadly Chaos Gems) do way more than just double damage. More like 3-4x damage.

    (Have you ever seen a 140,000hp shot? How about 3-4 in a row? Very satisfying. The scary part is that, up in the 90 levels, those Troll Juggernauts don't roll over and DIE from that!)

    A tidbit for you. It is undocumented (except in the forums) but AH scales (a little bit) with Dex, so although it fades some at very high levels, it is still useful, especially behind walls, on ledges, on the screen edge, etc.

  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Hehe, well yeah dreamrider I've seen... some things. Almost didn't want to get into this because I don't really take any pride in it, and certainly don't want to cause any envy, but then I'm sure you mostly know anyway. My first toon has been up to the 120's in the Vault, even with 10k HP and over 2000 lightning resist she is again getting one-shotted by Zealots. And that's just on NORMAL! But I found out that around floors 110-115 you start getting nothing but uniques, and of the highest level, so that helped round out my collection of Epic gear real quick. And It feels almost shameful to say here but... I've transmuted several Epic Solitudes for embers. :( But all I seem to be missing now is two of the "Legendary" polearms and a few trinkets. Still there were uncounted deaths along the way, and hundreds if not thousands more since then, because her primary function has become enchanting for über mods, and if I don't see the numbers I want she seeks a swift death and it's back to the title screen. lol

    Have you seen +184 damage added in a single enchant? How about an extra 68 instant Dexterity? I mean it's not even quite cheating at all really, is it? That death COULD have been entirely unintentional right?

    Okay I'm joking of course and I don't care, as I said I set my own challenges and this is part of my fun. I just completed my first posterity weapon, an Epic Personal Mortar with just over 5k DPS, mostly all physical and only a little extra added to lightning and poison, and +11 crit before heirlooming. (Plus it still has only 70% chance to disenchant. :p ) That's my present to my #1 girl, the build I call 'Little Shop of Horrors'. Named after I decided my Giant Pocketfish belong to her - because the Mimic is also a "trap" ;) - and realized it might be named Audrey-something-or-another...

    And that build is total freaking devastation, essentially just the eight most damage stacking skills combined with the coolest all round gear package I could think of. And it's what I consider as my 'pure class' build, so none of that common trash "spells" for her... :)

    Alright since this has become a tangent reply anyway, I've actually seen my OWN TROLL hit for over 200,000 when I was testing some things out once. But again that was on normal and levelmax, and that character is now more enchant slave than anything else. It's sort of fitting that her name is "Player" from when I started the trial version, never expecting to get hooked. (rofl)

    Also while I'm replying here, what I meant about the Critical Strikes skill itself is that, just going by some fuzzy math, with the difference between 3 vs 13 crit chance and 200% vs 320% and the reduced loss vs armor, simply maxing that skill should literally double your average and overall damage. All else being equal. So it is a huge bonus to have early for a non-****.

    And I do know about the unlisted Arrow Hail bonus, I wouldn't even call it small since each 200 Dex doubles the base value right? That's a big part of why I went with this plan, even the first rank kills most things faster than the average weapon you could expect to find in a campaign run, and the Devouring Trap can really amplify the effect. Another note about that, along with AH there's two other skills that I would say get a particular benefit from the DT, Lightning Bomb and Flame Trap, and yes I have empirically tested the FT and DT together, despite the description DT appears to drop the 'elemental armor' as well. :)

    So yeah anyway, still TBC on that thrilling conclusion...
  • chiploopchiploop Posts: 25
    Back to the **** raving (ranting) -

    The first thing Lightspeed II saw to gamble for turned out to be Djangor's Second Chance, which I took as a pretty cool omen, and in retrospect can now be seen as well and truly prophetic! ^_^

    On the other hand it was rather a good weapon and set a precedent for too many other good pistols, along with an unusual dearth of impressive crossbows, which combined with a couple of too-good-to-not-use shields messed with the pat little program. But the practical HC concerns included that from the start, and if I were playing on PC pistol/shield would be the preferred alternate weapon set I think, but as another Xbox issue there's just, you know, what you have equipped right now rather than set alternates. And with Her stylin' 31% reflect Talon Shield and good buddy Djangor, the fuss of swapping for more range / less damage rarely seemed like a good trade off. Some more strange luck later when a Tu'taran Venom Shield got upped to 41%/240% with one enchant and two added slots from a second, which is some serious protection to a beggar. Even stranger conclusion to that part of Lightspeed II's story, as enchant luck was good overall yet still frustrating, I'm sure most of Her gold went for "nothing", like nearly every first attempt it seemed. Only one wipe though and ironically that was at the very last shrine, hoping to turn that stylin' Talon into a contender again. But now it's special I guess, the only white one of its kind.

    Other notable luck was gambling a cheap belt that was actually a Sash, for a Gunslinger; finding a Shadow Mask and Gloves; back to back Empyrean Hood and Scimatron's Presence (it's amazing how awesome a combined 24% chance to flee can look when you don't have a lot of options isn't it?); a not so cheap but oh so worth it Justice Enshrined; Gambler's Pepperbox dropping and then surviving 5 enchants; and to round out the used yellow swag a Great Step's Reach, Reaver's Touch and at last the Manticore... and one more but that's a whole side story itself. Yet the craziest of all was actually a 400+ HP Black Fist Insignia in the shop, which bumped itself over 500 on the next levelup, followed right after by an expensive piece of jewelry that just HAD to be something good, and became a Black Fist Emblem with 5 Def, or make that 12 Def after one enchant. So umm yeah, I think She can't complain. I couldn't ever quite get Her to salvage the Pure Ember that Djangor was still holding, and I think and thank the lucky charm he be!

    Serious face again, another detail there I haven't run across any mention of, and I can't imagine it's only with Xbox either since all other fundamental mechanics appear to be identical: some enchantments will always get extra gains applied when they are in your inventory during a levelup. This includes all armor/resists and HP/MP mods, as well as stats on armor but not on trinkets, yet never elemental damage, or anything on weapons except leech and armor degrade (I think). And I've seen gains of at least 150 HP and 6 stat points after those levelmax shrine enchants, it's not trivial, so this means the optimal practice is to never attempt another enchant when you get any of those mods, until after they have been carried through a levelup, because it will happen again EVERY TIME. Seems like it must be related to the same effect that causes the "enchant bug", except in that case the item is not reset after one levelup and it's instead compounded thereafter? But any greens / blues you get also count as freshly enchanted, so every promising item should be held in your inventory 'once' before trying anything else with it, or it could be a wasted opportunity.

    There, I finally got around to another piece of general advice to give on the actual topic! So this is less general but also OT: Lightspeed II met Medea a tad greener than even Lightspeed the first, at level 22, but She wanted revenge and I knew it shouldn't be any problem, even if She had to be extra paranoid and cheesy in the rematch. And there is some method behind that part of the plan as well. Everything before floor 30 can be dialed, it's under control, I know I got this. The biggest risk is from the phase portals, and I would much rather face anything in those BEFORE they start scaling into the teens or twenties, and the relative damage also scales higher. This also somewhat applies to buying map scrolls or the Vault, even without the grinding rule, at least everything else you know what to expect and more importantly what you will NOT have to contend with: as in those lurking, moaning ***** that can and very likely will find a chance to one-shot you from some unseen corner. Basically 90% of the game becomes "how do I avoid Death-by-DZ" right? I've made peace with that fact even if it can still infuriate if I let myself dwell on it for a moment...

    Since floor 28 is right about where the mob level will start to overtake you, that should actually be optimal XP to stick to the main quest straight through Medea, at which point the gateway of terror and despair beckons, and discretion truly becomes the better part of valor. Two other tiny little cheats to mention about scamming the scammer now. First taking this milestone as a perfectly reasonable excuse for a well earned break, if you restart the game you get a chance at a free spell close to your current level from Hatch's first errand. It was one Lightspeed II already had but oh well, good extra cash still, and no one needs to be even this ethical about it either. Second - and I didn't quite remember if this worked like this or not but checked - you only need to enter floor 30 to open up his final quest. Which is preferable for that same cowardly reason, I would much rather deal with level 28 or 29 Zealots than level 30 or 31 Harlots... err, ZEALOTS! My own clvl doesn't matter, what matters is how prepared I can get Her for the actual threat.

    So all Hatch quests first until he clammed up again, then the four special maps which I like to do in mixed reverse order, starting with the Ruins because they are annoying and don't have an enchant shrine, and ending with the first Necropolis map because it gets you by far the most stuff to farm. In this way I maximized the efficiency of the total XP / gold / loot farming by running all those quests at a higher level, and stacked the odds the best I can for those three guaranteed shrine enchants. But it also minimized the odds of meeting my fate in a phase dungeon when simultaneously far less prepared and confronting much higher mob levels. Which brings us back to the yawning maw of doom and delight, that gate to floor 30, and a quick retreat that is no real escape anyway since I just plunged into a slightly scarier version of the same **** instead. Here's one other nice thing about accepting Hatch's final chore right then, once it's done at least you know the rest of the campaign can't be any more dangerous than that.

    One last aside, there are some alternate ideas about this build separate from the HC plan, the coolest one (to me) is the 'solution' to Leonardo's Conundrum! WTF to do with a wand which deals nothing but physical damage and boosts melee attacks??!! Why, give it to a girl who has nothing but Dexterity and uses no special weapon skills of course! And so here's the crowning jewel of Lightspeed II's strange and enchanted luck, a Mysterious Wand drops in the first quest scroll map, and I didn't even have to ID it to know what it was, nothing else is that color of green. :) Unfortunately I didn't have a great offhand weapon to complement it that I could also equip, as it was a ridiculous enough puzzle scrounging up just the right gear to meet the 60 Magic She needed for the **** wand, and I was not about to give any points up to tertiary mastery skills, but She barely made it happen. Worth it too since that was the strongest weapon up till then and the first time She cleared 1000 (550-1100 to be EXACT, how could I forget that ehh?) so it made for an awesome change of pace cleaning up the rest of the quest maps that way. The same deal with Hamstring too, LC is right there at the bottom of the "slowest" category but the base damage is huge. And there's just something cool about a weapon that deals physical splash damage amirite? You even get separate leeching from everything it hits! The perfect offhand companion is I think Paxx's Enforcer, with its big damage reduction and freezing chance and even HP leech already. But that's another on the pile of theories yet to be practiced, so it was fun to get this bit of serendipity along with some stakes, it worked out very well indeed.

    Still I wanted better speed or/and range against the sisterhood, and She had to wear some less than best clothes to equip it so the oddball interlude had to end after the last dip in the Necropolis. The Pepperbox is still more powerful in a way, and She may have just found the Reaver's Touch as well, which is what served most of the Palace as it turned out. Unfortunately I think in hindsight the Zealots probably have high poison resistance because they were consistently tougher than the Disciples, even a crit from the RT never dropped one that I can recall, which was starting to bug me until I thought it through. /shrug

    The Manticore was the last big drop, in floor 34 even, which apart from being the best nominal damage I could get the resists are too big and too good not to take the extra insurance. Also the last big shopping spree got Her a smokin hot Trance coat, perfect for the big date with Ordrak, not just for the coincidentally complete style, but the 296 HP and 34 fire resist - bringing her to 161 with Manticore, and some half worthwhile breathing room against some, err, Dragonkinbreath. In theory anyway, so incredible as it was the frock of Justice gave way to one more wardrobe change, for one last tango... well dammit two, or one and a half or whatever. As I mentioned the console froze before the fat lady sang, or was still singing... her requiem for the fat, dragon... ****, thing. Whatever, you get the point, and in a way it made for a better performance, She got some nerves out of the way and convincingly trounced him instead. At level 32, with some more fun numbers even -

    Damage = 611-1222
    Armor = 120-240
    HP 3666 & MP 220

    Well actually that HP is from just before I found a nearly forgotten deadly/healthy chaos gem on an obsolete ring, but 3678 isn't as cool so I'm going to ignore that for the official record. In either case over half of that number is obviously from gear. Some other random points of interest, as it turned out She never had to buy a single spell, and as much as I resent the very existence of Skeletons of any Romanized denomination - as they exemplify OP in the scheme of this game - a free Skeleton II is a free Skeleton II and it's Chinatown... I mean it's **** after all, so of course they got deployed and destroyed by the hundreds, until an upgrade to V status by the mid Palace somewhere and the Heal All III which had kept Her and Her pet on... petting terms through most of the campaign made way for one final act of defiance (cowardice) just to stick it to the man. Another final drop in the form of Zombies V, just too perfect. So along with Haste IV and Silence V that was the load-out, and the ultimate skill distribution:

    Ricochet: 1 (default point only) - spammed this a lot in the early going, always useful
    Needle Arc: 6 - a decent jump in damage from rank 5
    Critical Strikes: 10
    Armor Expertise: 2 - circumstantial expedience
    Wind of Justice: 10
    Defensive Spell Mastery: 10 - after other essentials it is just that good
    Adventurer: 10
    Block and Parry: 1 - for a grand total of ten percent! /shrug
    Devouring Trap: 1
    Arrow Hail: 1
    Hamstring: 1

    Strength: 24
    Dexterity: 165 (all natural baby)
    Magic: 38
    Defense: 47

    And yeah there were a few real good clown acts trying to juggle all Her possible gear into place to get something equipped, a much more sane way is to save a few points for whatever you may need, but it's just another part of the game, or my game anyway. :)

    In the end, between the skellies and zombies She managed to keep Ordrak pinned good and just pummeled him with the DT and AH combo, it was one of the faster fights I've had so far. For VHard at least. I wasn't very worried about this fight other than the attrition and fatigue of juggling most of Her skills the whole time, particularly with the irritatingly bad skillset swapping on the Xbox controller. So I really didn't want a long fight just to avoid a rogue **** up moment. The Dragonkin are virtually no threat at all against Hamstring, seriously She seems untouchable, but that still keeps you from doing much else if you can't get them out of the way for good. So thanks for the small room reminder dreamrider, it was nice timing to try it on for size, as it were.

    In many ways Lightspeed the first had the better game, until getting vaporized in a millisecond by Medea at least. She rocked a Xbow like a pro through the Caverns and Prison, and then defied the odds against probably two dozen Zealots / elementals when they were all certainly capable of an instant knockout. And even with more phase portals L2 had less XP at Medea, but no complaints about that obviously. Pretty happy with it of course (much too happy?) I hope this doesn't come across like mere bragging, and what I mostly hope is that the strategy itself made sense to anyone reading. As I said it's just some alternatives to the orthodox meta, like I already KNOW how OP an SS/ES build backed up by a trap or other crowd control can be, obviously, but that also commits you to a certain escalation path to max the effectiveness, and relies on some not quite common enough to be a safe bet gear, to cover for weaknesses to certain potential situations. Like I've been caught off guard with not much other than a strong Explosive Shot on reflex, which masks a strong blocker or sneaky archer that gets a couple lucky hits in, as example. I think this has a powerful answer to almost everything, if you can adapt quick enough. But again with the main point being the parameters of the challenge, I've never liked the idea of over leveling in RPGs - even when it's actually the same difference as over gearing in practice, like in this case I know. ;) Still just a style preference in the end.

    One last point to tidy up, since I mentioned it earlier, but it didn't bear on the story thus far...

    dreamrider have you ever noticed being able to get repeat fetch quests to the same Vault floors from Vaiman? This is how I think it works but not entirely sure how consistent yet, for everything past the first floor all you have to do is talk to him and cancel, as many times as you like, to randomly cycle through quest descriptions. But that fills up to a limit of maybe 20, some of which even appear to have different selection probabilities. What I think happens is that each one of them you've seen can then remain in the stack until taken and replaced with an updated floor target. It is possible to get a full level and extra fame point this way, risk free. A little tedious for recommending in softcore probably, but HC? Just thought I'd throw it out there, at least see if it even works sometime, it'd be interesting to know either way. The other guy you can exploit is Gar, the usual method of canceling his quests and looking again, but here the goal is more for a specific item type, and getting a shot at the quest item drop, like I dunno say, hypothetically of course... farming the same game spawn for as long as it takes to see an Epic Ribauldequin of the Knight that already has 2 slots? ;) Again make of that what you will. lol

    Okay, a lot of one thing leading to another, and a lot of collected experience buried in a lot of filler with this I see. Kind of wanted a reminder to myself as much as anything, this is the sort of game I feel sure I'll pick up more than once after setting it down for a while. Which will also be in a couple weeks for me, won't be giving myself a chance to play anything for a while. I'm also pretty glad I got to pick over the Armory while it was still there, dreamrider do you think you or anyone else might be interested in a fairly simple and easy collectors guideline? Because I first tried to get a rough grasp of the numbers and ladder for the gear when I hit my own 'collector mode' but without going full on accountant about it, I saw the pattern which is actually amazingly simple, for everything but the trinkets at least. Maybe this is nothing new but, just another something I haven't run across as such.

    Aaaallrighty now... /consciousness
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