3-MAN IRONMAN: CAVE’IN TRIPLECROWN
Played: 31.March - 19. May 2010
The normal difficulty is more like a overview, but the nightmare and hell parts are more detailed. I hope you enjoy the read.
Check out the youtube videos linked at the end of this report.
I hardly have any memories for the normal part of our adventure although this was my first IronMan victory ever and one of my first IronMan games playing as mage. However I am sure, you fellow Diablo players have heard about enough IronMan victories on normal difficulty... The nightmare part is a lot more detailed as the memories are still fresh. Let me point out that this report is written out of my perspective, the mage, and therefore it may look focused on this character from time to time but please note that the warrior and rogue were dealing the real damage.
We used the following tournament rule set:
I usually like to go for ID scrolls as we experienced IronMan attempts with hardly any IDs drops and one good ID can turn the game in my opinion. Of course one Resurrection scroll could do so as well but we preferred 2 ID scrolls + some armor pieces from Griswold.
At dungeon level 1 we already knew that this run we wouldn't be short on ID scrolls (with a total of 12 collected in church we had the chance to identify some early drops as well). We had fine drops: All the important books you need: Heal Other and Holy Bolt + good staffs which we would use until the very end of normal difficulty: Two Heal Other staffs and one Healing staff.
I don't remember anything special about the Butcher and Leoric but as far as I know we faced the Butcher in front of his door and for Leoric we had Holy Bolt so you can imagine it was rather unspectacular. I used up ~ three Mana Potions in church providing me with a rather full inventory.
As a mage I usually start using Mana in late caves when level-ups stops and staffs get empty. As a mater of fact I had plenty of Mana left after Diablo was killed on normal difficulty so maybe I should have casted some more on these early levels to keep up with experience
The butcher confrontation - rather carefree without stairtrap or grate
King Leoric suprised us at the very start of this level
I remember not using a Manashield yet which resulted in Hariel PKing me once (I don't blame him though considering all these corridors with little space) What I really dislike now, looking back, is that I refused to use the Enchanted Shrine we would find because I was too afraid to loose a spell (but one could need those extra slvls later) We started to identify some drops here as we had enough IDs.
Here are the results: Amber Mail, Amulet of Power, Shield of Absorption, Ring of Vigor, Gold Amulet of Precision
This Purifying Spring was an early blessing and ensured constant Firewall suport for lvl 7
On dungeon level 9 I ended up being PKed two times by Hariel which is why I finally decided to use a Manashield. Later on level 11 then we finally had some action as we were ambushed by Storm type monsters. With half of the level cleared so far the party started a retreat, chaotic like chicken, all players running in a different direction... The mob would eventually split up as well giving us the chance for an exciting one versus Storms. I only had two Storms which would end up as easy prey for my fire spells but Hariel had to face a pack of five storms and he barely managed to survive this encounter with three hit points. We were really lucky here as we all managed to survived this ambush without activating more foes because we were running all around the map. On dlvl 12 one of our first drops we decided to identify turned out to be a Savage Sword of Haste! A very good drop used the entire time from there on till hell difficulty.
This was the second time in hell for me in an IronMan game (with the last try failing at dungeon level 14). On level 13 we had good drops right away: Ring of the Heavens, Awesome Plate of Deflection and some nice mage items as well: Staff of Guardian and Staff of Fireball. All of hell was a dream for the mage with good staffs dropping + OK books and plenty of Mana potions. Therefore the Mage was able to shine offensively as well (apart from the standard Firewall). With the Fireball staff + Manashield there wasn't anything on this level which could challenge me. Finally on 14 just as the Manashield scrolls were running out a Manashield staff happened to drop along with a book of Fireball. The one thing I remember about dlvl 15 is the though monsters: Balrogs and Soulburners. There were some awesome drops again including the Jade Helm of the Stars, and Naj's Puzzler.
A footnote on the Naj's Puzzler: I wouldn't go so far and state that Teleport is essential for a mage in an IronMan but from that point onward everything was a lot more relaxed. 57 charges of Teleport are enough to escape a lifetime of dangerous situations like getting swarmed in a corner, or having to retreat through a single door. But it also opened the door for some tactical options (see later in nightmare)
Dungeon Level 16
Finally my first IronMan victory :-D I don't remember anything spectacular again. As far as Mana goes I finished with lots of blues left (8+ for sure) We didn't play extremely cautious but we took our time to stay on the safe side. In the end Shade would lure Diablo with Holy Bolt into the 2nd segment to save him for later. After we finished the rest of 16 Diablo was easy prey for a furious Rouge a vengeful Warrior and a Holy Bolt casting Mage.
If you ever start a continuation game the reuse of town services is an awesome award and a lot of fun. Free identification at Cain is of course the most thrilling offer. In this game we could Identify the following items: Obsidian Shield, Sapphire Shield of the tiger, Naj's Puzzler; Helm of giants, Ring of wizardry, Garnet Mail of precision, Ring of the heavens
Apart from that we would also buy the following goods for our new adventure: Massive Bow of thunder, 7x Res, ~60 Heal potions, ~35 Mana potions
Dungeon Level 1-4 were rather unspectacular... as you may imagine there was hardly damage to receive but plenty to share. We decided to let the mage get some early experience here so I would run around killing most of the foes in one hit with my Firebolt spell. I ended up with hardly pots used, because the pots consumed were usually refilled with new ones dropping. Shade decided to go for the butcher alone (I didn't even noticed) but Leoric was finished in shotgun formation with my Holy Bolt stun as backup.
Level 5-8: As there were hardly any Identify scroll drops so far we were happy to discover a Glimmering shrine on dlvl 7. Some of the jewelry we collected in church and the catacombs so far turned out to be useful (eg. the Amulet of the Stars). Quite some +light radius stuff was identified as well but we left this trash behind.
Dungeon Level 8 was a lightning level with Magma Demons and Bloodstone. Anyway no note able so far (Potions still like at the start for me)
Caves were the crucial point! As we rushed nightmare difficulty so far we were not able to continue this here. For the warrior AC and Block wasn't that good anymore so we had to slow down significantly. On level 10 we decided to identify an AC 20 Tower Shield (To help out the Warrior but it turned out to be plain Azure) and the Schaeffer's Hammer which was hardly used though (and in the end dropped on dlvl 15). Dungeon Level 11 then was the really painful to play with Death Wings and Stormlords - we had to move super slow. None of my spells were really doing any damage here so I was restricted to Heal Other and Stonecurse the entire level. This is where I thought that the mage is not really a good choice in late nightmare and that I should have played a magic heavy Rogue which could deal damage on any level. Nevertheless the mage was doing fine later again and for the hell continuation I would even state that it wouldn't have been possible without Stonecurse, Recharge Staff and Heal Other.
After dlvl 11 we were rather worried about how far we can really get in nightmare. Death Wing and Stormlord drained our resources vastly and our hope was going down.
When we started level 12 I had ~30 full Rejuvenation Potions in my backpack along with a nearly drained staff of Manashield (no spell book found yet), a Plentiful staff of Elemental and Naj's Puzzler, all of the really important spells you need for an IronMan and 500 Mana to cast them. The lack of a staff of Healing and a staff of Heal Other was a great burden as we really expected these two items to drop during church (with a drop chance of 56%).
We were relieved to get Black Knights + Fire Drakes. Coming to conclusion this was an easy level although we moved very carefully using gates a lot to fall back. My primary spell on this level turned out to be Firewall to support the rogue bowing down foes behind grates. Bosses were rather unspectacular (Partially because of the dumb AI which hindered them to open doors) and as far as I remember the level was also a walk in the park for the Warrior. Apart from one tricky situation, which was solved with Stonecurse we moved on to hell! We really felt like we managed the tricky part of the run because caves can be a lot harder than hell in many perspectives: ambush at the stairs, vast areas, hidden type monsters, etc. just to name some of the disasters possible in caves.
Lionskull the Bent - finished off behind a grate
Dungeon Level 13
Arriving in hell we started this very carefully because the stairs were located in an huge open area. However after our first steps we already knew that we could do this without major problems as the monsters were nearly the same as on dlvl 12. We had Fire Drakes + Doom Guards which is why on this level I was solely supporting the warrior and the rogue as there was no need for Firewalls (which is my best offensive spell at that point) and Lightning was only used occasionally versus Fire Drakes. Surprisingly enough my Lightning spell was still doing fine damage versus these nightmare minions. What a pity that most Mana was spent because Shade was luring too much monsters all of the time :-P Therefore I ended up using a lot of Mana for Stonecurse (60 Mana per cast) and Heal Other (40 Mana per cast)
Dungeon Level 14
This level wasn't that easy because we had a monster mix consisting of Lava Maw, Maelstorm and Snow Witches. As a matter of need for inventory space I decided to blast out all the remaining Elemental staff charges on this level, as a Lightning staff dropped (which I intended to use at level 15). Apart from the nearly missed Windforce bow („Ha ha You don't want that golden Longwarbow?“) a Telekinesis staff dropped (which was hardly used because we were afraid of the TK bug). Something else I tried out from time to time (when we faced a pack of 5+ monsters) was that I lured some of the monsters into a different direction to split the mob and then evade damage quickly by using Teleport.
In the end, when the level was cleared, things became spectacular again. Because of an equipment change I ended up to suicide myself as Naj's Puzzler gives -25 hp and I wouldn't pay attention to that. Although without this we could have had a perfect nightmare continuation without a single death from the Resurrection scroll point of view it wouldn't mater.
Dungeon Level 15
For level 15 I think we had one of the easiest monster combos possible - Doom Guards and Snow Witches. In the room we started at, hardly any monsters we presented so we had a huge secured area to fall back right from the start. Note able for me: This was a mage level again with four staff drops (Bone Spirit, used up completely and turned out to be a good scout ^^, a Lightning staff used versus Doom Guards a lot, a Manashield staff from Red Vex and a Golem staff) + a good amount of small Mana potions. Nevertheless my personal supply of potions was going down constantly here. I hardly had to use Stonecurse this time but I lost tons of Mana to Bloodstar in the long corridors which made diagonal walking almost impossible. At the very end of the level we would encounter a Blood Fountain but due to laziness it was used only once by the team. Lazarus was the only job left on the level and this is how we handled his chamber. First of all Shade lured Red Vex and Black Jade which were stonecursed and then finished by sword and bow. Then, after finishing the two remaining Hell Spawn, we rushed the room with the help of a level 7 Golem scroll and finished of a stoned Lazarus who dropped an indestructible Bastard Sword for us. We then challenged our luck with two remaining cauldrons but no chance. We also used up our two last ID scrolls to help us decide on what to take to dlvl 16. I left my two Lightning staffs and one Mana Shield staff on this level as these wouldn't give any additional use on 16.
Some seconds before that screenshot i grilled half a dozen snow witches with the help of some Firewalls
A screenshot showing nice positioning
Dungeon Level 16
The momentous moment! After my first contact with a Fire Ball I was really shocked. Having only 38 % Resist All I decided to stay behind walls or corners the entire level just because one Fireball hitting me would cost the team one additional Heal Other. And my Mana was really running out fast also because throughout the level I gave some of my Rejuvenation potions to Shade and Hariel (Good we had that Eldritch Shrine!) Hariel and Shade did a great job here, with the help of my Golem staff (Which turned out to be really useful versus the masses of advocates). The desync was horrible without question but the very skillful and careful playing style of Shade and Hariel could even handle teleporting Advocates and Bloodknights. While on level 14 we were still rather hot headed , on 16 the team proved that we were indeed able to play it very cool. After the entire surrounding was cleared of monsters Shade lured Mr. Big D to the usual location, so we could kill the remaining foes of Diablo's room including Sir Gorash. After this procedure I shared my last potions with Shade and we faced the Dark Lord again! I managed to cast ~10 Fire Walls and give some Holy Bolt support with my remaining Mana and before we could realize nightmare Diablo would perish before our eyes.
The last moments of the dark lord - gg!
Bought in town: Jade Mail of the Tiger AC 33 45 hp 23% ra; Amber Helm of Accuracy AC 6 14 dex 19% ra; 4x Res; 43 Heal- and 33 Mana- Potions
Identified in town: Gold Ring of the Stars 10 aa 23% th; Crystal Ring of the Zodiac 17 aa 45% rl; Jade Amulet 29% ra; Amulet of Wizardry 24 mag; Jade Ring of the Heavens 14 aa 23% ra;
We didn't expect any resistance here but let me say that we were surprised a lot by Corpse Bow archers on dungeon level 3 & 4. You know that on dungeon level 1 there wasn't anything special,... I was still able to one hit kill with my lvl 10 Firebolt spell. With the two Identify scrolls bought at the start and two additional of these scrolls found on this level we already had a solid ID count of four which would keep constantly increasing (A good ID game). On dungeon level 2 three more of these would drop and we encountered our first boss monsters. The Butcher was stoned and then eliminated. There wasn't really any problem with rushing the game right now and often we would even separate to clear the levels faster. Dungeon Level 3, without doubt, would supply us with the backbone of our hell continuation... a staff of Healing and a staff of Heal Other! But these fine drops would also give us some early inventory space problems. I still had to carry my Manashield staff and with all these ID scrolls and pots (used ones were always replaced with new ones that dropped) we decided to leave my Amber chain behind and replaced it with the Garnet/Dexterity from Hariels inventory. A wise decision... We thought the +20 Dexterity could be useful on the later levels and we were right. A staff of Firewall was found as well but let me say that offensive staffs found on church - caves aren't really worth using... I tried to spam some Firewalls, also versus Leoric but I was dealing too much damage to my team so I threw it away ^^. Let me note here that Corpse Bow archers were giving us a „pain in the ass“. I remember getting insane damage and for Shade and Hariel it wasn't looking rosy either. At least on dungeon level 4 emergency pots were consumed (I think by everyone) and the team didn't even consider a victory possible at this point just because these archers gave us a hell lot of damage.
Total ID Count found: 9
Shrines: Divine (used by me)
The Team on dlvl 2
We started our second session within the catacombs, encountering a boss glow directly behind the first door. Against our prayers we had goat archers on dungeon level 5-7. However, for whatever reason, these were less challenging as the undead archers in church! After a good half of dungeon level 5 was cleared we were even wondering: „Shade is this nightmare?“^^ The warrior was able to block like 90% of the arrows/attacks and Hariel was dealing insane damage with Windforce. Finally on dungeon level 6 the one item I was hoping for dropped - a Book of Manashield. Looking back at the run my Manashield staff was at 1/3 charges at this point with 2 MS scrolls in the backpack and only one more dropping till the end we would have been in big trouble … without Manashield in hell/hell. I played very defensive and apart from some rare Firewalls I restricted myself to Heal Other and Stone Curse for dangerous situations. Only on dungeon level 8 when a Purifying Spring appeared I would be able to play a little bit more aggressive but with the running back and forth I missed 50% of the level anyway. I could however without doubt save ~2000 mana on this level. We were doing great process so far, with hardly any problems (and for me pots consumed) and we were really looking forward to the caves.
Total ID Count found: 4
Shrines: Divine, Magical, Cryptic, Eldritch, Purifying Spring
Another nice shot showing the team playing havoc with the foes on dlvl 6
Dungeon level 9 (Magma Demon + Red Storm):
A hard level! However my high level Lightning spell was doing fine damage versus Magma Demons and some Firewalls + Stonecurse took care of the Storms. After the first „hits“ Shade decided to switch to my Garnet/Dexterity armor to improve his block (the Awesome Plate of Deflection was left behind). I grabbed the first random mail that dropped which I could afford to wear instead. With improved block the warrior could stand against these threats as long as they wouldn't outnumber the team. Let me point out that we didn't play with sets during the entire cave run but eventually in dangerous situations we would fall back to the next grate/door/corner. As far as I remember on almost every level we started with the stairs located in open space...
Barbecue time ...
One of the many retreats
Dungeon level 10 (Red Storm + Frost Charger):
A terrible level, I was really afraid about the outcome the entire time. Countless dangerous situations, a super awkward level design with lots of lava rivers and Frost Chargers were teleporting instantly due to lag. Right in the beginning at the stairs we were swarmed by Storms and it was really like „Fuck, it's gg“. Without a mage/or let's say a Stonecurse spell this would have definitely been the end of the ironman and from this point onward I always had Stonecurse ready at any given point before Heal Other. Later that level we were retreating from a mob only to suddenly get monsters in our flank because of the lava placement. The level was pure excitement caused mostly by an insane playing style... and after every new life or death situation I would say again: „Well at least we live to tell the tale“
Ambushed at the stairs ... there were more coming but i was too busy to take a screenshot
Swarmed - that's the level design I have been talking about
Dungeon level 11(Deathwing + Frost Charger):
On this level we learned to love the „grate rooms“ (we called them panic rooms) and used them whenever we lured too much foes. In one of these situations with the pack not to far away I decided to let the warrior and rogue get into the room safely and I would teleport in later. Immediately after I was in the room I heard a warrior screaming out loud and the sound of lots of items falling to the ground... Hariel and me acted fast though and with knockback, some Stonecurse and a Firewall we were able to hold the monsters off. The death was kinda odd as Shade had full health at this point and he just died instantly. However, enough Resurrection scrolls were left for three more ironman games so np.
Panicroom + Shade's corpse
Dungeon level 12 (Deathwing + Fire Drake):
One of the most beautiful things on this level were the 10 Deathwings waiting for our arrows and Fire Walls behind a magma river. We also decided to identify some stuff at the end of the level: Snakes Ring of Brilliance (+3 mana for me) and some more crap which was left behind. The staff of Heal Other was still doing a good job and recharging was very cheap, usually loosing 1-2 charges. Also from my point of view I was doing a good job preserving resources with 30/33 pots left on dungeon level 12 and Hariel and Shade also had enough left.
Defending in a set-formation
Dungeon level 13 (Blood Knights + Snow Witches):
How unlucky can you get with Blood Knights already on 13? The level demanded excessive Stonecurse and a careful play style. The warrior was doing just fine with almost perfect block as long as we wouldn't lure too much foes which wasn't always possible. Snow Witches weren't really a threat. Without doubt the knock back was very useful to conserve Stonecurse as usually not more than one knight would reach Shade. With the staff of Stonecurse dropping things became relaxed again though, used up entirely on this level it conserved for sure 1,5k mana. After we had cleared approximately 80% of the level another death happened, this time Hariel fell prey to two witches. After a fallback I killed those bitches with some Fireballs and Hariel was resurrected. We then decided to test our luck with two cauldrons but we had no luck in the entire hell/hell section
Can't get enough of all those BKs
Dungeon level 14 (Blood Knights + Lava Maw)
And Blood Knights again... on 3/3 possible levels but we already knew how to handle them. Maws were of course a little bit harder than witches to handle but guess what, lightning was still dealing fine damage whenever possible and Blood Knights were stone cursed when lured in higher numbers. I can say with firm conviction that without Stonecurse this run wouldn't have been possible... or at least a lot slower. The Heal Other staff was going down on charges but my initial guess that it would be already empty around late caves was wrong. The Healing staff on the other hand features a strange story… usually with recharging I would loose 1-3 charges on the Heal Other staff, never more. The Healing staff however was going down by 50% on the first try 28->14 and at a later point from 12->6... it was absolutely bullshit! A noteworthy drop would be the book of Golem (for dungeonlevel 16) the Obsidian Gothic Shield of the Tiger (replaced the old shield with more AC and resists) and a Jade Amulet. No luck with the cauldrons of course.
Dungeon level 15 (Soulburner + Steellord)
OK we didn't get Azure Drakes but well Soulburners + Steellords aren't easy and you can imagine, the whole level was back and forth action and had to be played carefully. We started with the stairs directly above Laz's chamber and we therefore decided to check the other direction first. We eventually got into a long corridor but before I noticed what happened Shade started spamming hotkeys: „Retreat, Retreat“; „Yeah? Where to?“ Ambushed by some (~3) Soulburners, nasty Bloodlust and some Steellords coming from the corridor every now and then, maybe lured by lost arrows… it seemed like half of the level was on our tail from the very start. I did a poor Stonecurse job there to be honest only, stone-cursing the minimum amount of monsters to conserve mana and concentrated on healing Shade. Three pots were consumed in this battle by the warrior when we were finally able to prevail but that's a good outcome for such a surprise attack. We then went further into the corridor ending up in front of a Soulburner room with, I don't know, there were at least 30+ Soulies. We lured them in packs of 2-3 to our „set“ at the end of the corridor, because of a cauldron which would block their attacks from time to time. Unfortunately these killer witches weren't that dumb and it wouldn't work out allways. Because of the little space diagonal walking was out of the question as well... Shade was really impatient. He just couldn't wait for the witches to be parked. He had to run around all the time and risked it to take unnecessary damage; lol so crazy mate! We were really getting ourselves into a conflict there within the team and I personally was fearing for the harmony and coolness. After all the Soulies were killed (I haven't mentioned any lag so far but you readers just imagine teleporting witches on my screen + knockback) we were able to finally move on. There were more Steellords lurking around now which afforded some Stonecurse from time to time but to be honest we were save already. When everything around Laz's room was killed, we first lured Black Jade and Red Vex separately and killed them with the help of Stonecurse. Then Hariel sniped the Advocates and the Hellspawns. At the end we rushed the room, (my job was to stone curse the traitor) killed the bastard and therefore opened the pentagram for our last confrontation with Diablo.
Of course we used up the remaining Identify scrolls on our drops before moving on providing the following results: Crystal Ring of Wizadry; Mithril Bastard Sword of the Stars; Ring of Sorcery; Amulet of Harmony
(Hell difficulty drops weren't bad but I think hardly any were used during the run just because our normal and nightmare drops were better)
Soul Burner massacre
Dungeon level 16
We took a little pause before dungeon level 16 which would result in the following dialog:
„Who got the res?“
„I thought you had them“
„How the hell can you leave the res scrolls on 15 !?“
Quite a downer for the very start of the level. Apart form this we knew it would be very hard and we weren't too sure about our remaining pots…. Would they be enough? The Heal Other- and Heal- staff were used up during the level so my mana expense was certainly increasing.
Shade and Hariel, the mage behind a save corner the entire time, were starting their game around Diablo's room. They were doing a great job although I couldn't see most of it I just know that they really gave it all. With one of the first Bloodknights dropping a res scroll the whole team could relax a little bit and we even found another one later. After clearing all the surroundings we went for room 1 „The room of death“. We expected the worst because the whole level was underpopulated so far but this area turned out to harbor few foes as well. After the room was cleared (Shade said so) I was exploring the room in an attempt to „get the map“ running straight into a group of 5 Blood Knights, ty :-P. The problem, and this wasn't the first mob I activated in a "cleared area", was solved and we could move on, with a newly found Guardian staff which we would use to separate Advocates from Knights from now on. The rest of the level was cleared without mayor problems and I was very optimistic from this point onwards… eventually I would have been able to stone every single monster in Diablo's room which we opened at that point. We did the same thing as on normal and nightmare … Shade using Holy Bolt and luring Diablo into the spiral room. The rest is on tape and you may eventually watch it. Apart from the last fail... luring 7-8 Blood Knights at once which ended in a Stone Curse orgy there wasn't any chance for defeat. With a good backup on pots (more as on nightmare) we would finish the dark lord off with sword, knockback and Firewall.
Thanks alot for these great games and memories - Hariel & Shade & Plague - TripleCrown for eternity!