YES! My first VHHC, 2nd time Vanquisher, 3rd time beating the game.....aka im a newbie
I had a blast, can't wait till TL2. In the meantime I thought i'd make a short, hopefully informative post on my strategy. I read through the other VHHC post and they helped me, so I'd like to return the favor.
I used a couple of mods, mostly quality of life type mods, nothing really gamebreaking (aka Potions stack, Merchant pack, respec). For the most part i took things very slow and farmed exp and gold, I'd look at vendor's inventory pretty much every time i cleared a level and bought any item that had promise (more on that later). Looking back on the entire journey, the hardest part was honestly those first 15 lvl's. After you get explosive shot and flechette trap things really become simple.
My leveling path was as follows:
1-10: main story
10-20 1-10 dungeons
20-24ish main story
25-37ish: 10-20, 15-30 dungeons
37-40: quest giver that spawns the portals (forgot his name)
I was about 12 levels higher than whatever zone i was in except during the grind from 37-40 doing those quests. The nice thing about those quests is that the mobs are your level but the zone is predetermined. So even though the mobs were equal level, the map was for a low level character and therefore the zone was filled with low threat creatures (zombies skeletons etc). I was doing so much damage at the time I flew through those quests and probably hit my highest exp/hr ratio there.
As for gear, it's really quite simple. you want HEALTH, lots and lots of +Health! I had about 5.5k when i killed odrak! I found resistances are nice when you take lots of minor aoe damage, but you should be avoiding situations like that (I'll explain my strat on that soon). Since resistances don't reduce damage by a %, +health is the best way to go to survive the spike damage that you WILL take from dark zealots and charging type mobs. (missle reflect and block helps too, but since you enchant all of your gear, those (and a decent amount of resists) come naturally. Ultimately, with 5k+ hp, a shield, appropriate talents, and common sense, your survivability is fine.
Just for comparison, I had +755, +570 and +515 on my shield, gloves and boots, respectively. All my other gear save my shoulders had between +300-500 health.
As for gems, again its simple. DEADLY CHAOS GEMS! yes, you want two + 4 crit gems in everything except your weapon (flawless +damage gems for that) If you have to settle for the +2 crit gems, thats fine but try for +4 crit. They are cheap and soooooo good. (you'll see why later)
During my journey i was extremely fortunate to find dragonscale plates (+80% crit damage), and i had enough gold (and some decent MF gear) to gamble when i was ~lvl 40 and farmed pistols untill i got an epic Gambler pepper box (+80% crit damage). Sadly i had a stark fist of removal get d/e'd at 4% ( i was pissed). Nevertheless I enchanted my pepperbox and stuck two +33 dmg gems in it. It dealt a whopping 981 dps. Combined with +160% crit damage from my gear, more +crit damage from talents, and some various +% fire, +% elemental damage from random enchants on my gear....I blew #@$# up. I was getting 16-20k explosive shot crits, and had a crit rate above 70%.......duh, winning.
As for talents,
10 ranged mstry, 10 crit , 10 adventurer (respec out for black palace), 10 block/parry (respec in for black palace), 10 explosive shot
10 armor, 10 barter (respec out for black palace), 1pt flechette, 1 pt devouring, 1 pt hamstring.
My other points were just spread out in Minion mastery, GF/MF (respec out for black palace), and defensive mastery.
Not much to say for these talents, most of it is common sense. However the single pt in flechette, devouring and hamstring are crucial for your survivability and damage. They are, in my view, mandatory for VHHC.
Hamstring is an on demand haste. I never used it to actually hamstring mobs, it was purely an escape move. I had it bound to my right trigger button so it was so easy to reposition myself during encounters. It is soooo much better than casting haste and then running. Also i found at times, when i had haste as a spell, That it would get me into more harm than good. If i needed to get away sure haste helped, but when i turned around to attack i often times found my character sprinting right back into the direction i just ran from. With hamstring I could right click and sprint to where i wanted, release it and attack as normal. It worked wonderfully.
A single pt in devouring trap is a significant dps increase when fighting bosses.
Flechette trap is awesome! Sure the damage isnt all that high in comparison to your own, but for 1 point it provides a ton of utility. I pretty much used it to scout rooms, or as a "command" attack signal for my pet/minions. All you need to do is throw 1 of them down ahead of you to scout, and if there are mobs in the area, the trap attacks, and your pet/minions will move forward to engage. Furthermore, you don't get initial aggro from the mobs being attacked. Rather they attack the first thing targettable, which is going to be your minions/pet. So, in essence, after throwing down a flechette trap all your minions will engage (if on aggressive stance) and all the mobs will clump and gather on them setting up a perfect explosive shot opportunity, all the while your half a screen away.
Another great feature of Flechette trap is it acts as a tracer! You can see what direction is it is shooting and follow up with a precise Explosive shot. Lastly, sometimes during a encounter it's easy to lose track of all the mobs (especially if they have a sprint or have been resurrected after you killed them) I have found myself being beat on by a bunch of newly resurrected mobs and I would have had no idea they were alive if it weren't for that single pt flechette trap shooting towards me!
I think i only dropped below 50% health 1 time. On floor 33, there was a mini boss Dark zealot below me(I had to take a ramp/stairs down) and she had 3 or 4 dark zealots surrounding her. Well i thought i was safe up on my perch above them and tried to be cute and launch an explosive shot and auto attack them to death. Well......boy was wrong... I think i got hit by 3 "holy shit" lighting strikes (thankfully i blocked the 4 or it woulda been possibly the end of my game).I promptly screamed like a little girl and smashed like every consumable on my action bar, thankfully 1 was a health pot and another was a portal. So I booked it and got the hell out of dodge. After mentally regrouping, a cigarette to calm the nerves, and a new pair of underwear--i finished the game.
Other than that, my first VHHC vanquisher journey was uneventful....I guess that is the way it should be.
hope the tips help. Thanks runic for making a great game i just found a week ago. Looking forward to my next VHHC destroyer and torchlight2!