Firebirb, fly away

Diablo III‘s season five started and then kind of fizzled for me. I played a Wizard up to the end of Chapter IV, which unlocked the cosmetic rewards and the full set of Fire Bird’s Finery, and then I could take no more.

The problem is the Firebird set. It’s kind of broken. The six piece text is — at best —  so badly written as to be misleading (though I’m sure not maliciously so!), and the way the mechanic is implemented is broken and kind of a pain to use at low gear levels. The set might be wonderful at higher Torment levels and in late Greater Rifts, but I haven’t the patience to see it through to that point.

As you burn enemies with fire spells, you’re supposed to gain a buff to your damage after dealing 3,000% of your weapon DPS to them. In practice, one of three things happens:

  • The enemies die before they receive 3,000% damage, you get no buff, and so it takes a long while to get through trash — your damage is high enough to kill them before the set bonus kicks in, but just low enough to make fights against trash tedious;
  • An enemy gains the burning effect and you get the buff, meaning you then finish it off almost immediately, which means the buff expires and you’re back to slow fights;
  • An enemy gains the burning effect, then dies, and the buff bugs out and you keep the bonus damage, which makes things ridiculously easy until you next apply the buff and it correctly removes itself.

What this means in practise is that the game swings from too-hard to too-easy between each pack of champions, and the optimal strategy for playing with the Firebird set seems to be:

  • Enter a rift and find the first pack of champions
  • Gain the buff and then run away
  • Never use another fire spell so you don’t proc the buff again and keep the buff indefinitely

I can’t play like that. It’s a bit of an exploit of an obviously broken mechanic, and it irritates me no end to see the buff flickering off and on. It irritates me when it doesn’t proc during a too-tedious fight against a pack of regular enemies, and it still irritates me when it hangs around after an elite dies, even though that’s to my advantage. So I’ve switched to playing a crusader project collaboration tools.

Smashing things in the face, again

My crusader, stood alongside Kateri's barbarian, circa level 60-something
My crusader, stood alongside Kateri’s barbarian, circa level 60-something

Switching to crusader does mean I’ve lost my one freebie set for the season, but that’s okay. I’ve already gambled up two pieces of the Thorns of the Invoker set, so I’m on my way. And so far it’s much more fun than the wizard, so I’m just going to roll with it. I’m running a sort-of Thorns build at the moment, getting in close and then popping Consecration and Iron Skin to destroy packs of enemies and keep myself alive.

So after playing Torchlight II together, and minus an ill-fated detour into wizarding territory for me, Kateri and I have ended up back in our time-tested roles of niftily smashing things in the face with a big hammer (or axe). She’s playing a barbarian and has some Lut Socks already cubed to go along with the Might of the Earth set; I’m hoping to acquire at least four pieces of a crusader set by the end of the weekend.

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