Snowbelle Part Three: Wild and Reckless Abandon
Snowbelle finished up her journey through the standard campaign by defeating Diablo with relative ease. Her path had been notably smoother than Spyderman's at every step along the way, as I had fully expected due to the fact that her variant was significantly less restricted. I tried to test out all of the different Cold-based damage sources available to the Wizard class and ended up in the role of a somewhat typical Frozen Orb spammer. This might be disappointing to some readers who would prefer me to be doing something wacky, but not every variant has to be completely hog-tied and crippled beyond repair. I was having a ton of fun playing as Snowbelle and that was my biggest goal for the whole project. This was also the reason why I had known I needed to play Spyderman first before Snowbelle, as I would never be willing to return to Spyderman's slow and plodding pace after experiencing the game through Snowbelle's eyes. She was doing everything faster than her predecessor and some of her impatience was rubbing off on me as a player.
The first thing to do upon starting up Adventure Mode on Torment I difficulty was to assign some of the Paragon levels that I'd deliberately avoided thus far. I didn't want to dump all 509 Paragon points into Snowbelle's setup all at once though, which seemed like it would be too much of a good thing. My self-imposed restriction was therefore to assign only 50 Paragon points per Torment difficulty level, which meant only 50 points in total here on Torment I. Snowbelle could pick up the rest of the Paragon points as she dove deeper into the Torment difficulties. This also allowed me to put the Paragon points wherever I wanted them instead of needing to split them up across the four different trees, and I decided to put them all into the Critical Hit Damage category since it came out ahead on the Damage calculation over putting them into Critical Hit Chance. I planned to put even more Paragon points into the Offensive tree as they became available; if I could max out any of the Paragon categories, I would pick Critical Hit Damage, Critical Hit Chance, Attack Speed, and Life.
Next up was the chance to assign equipped legendary item properties via Kanai's Cube. The armor slot was the easiest to pick, as Snowbelle very much wanted the Frostburn Gauntlets: 20% additional damage from Cold skills and 50% chance for Cold skills to Freeze the target. Yes please! I also decided to pick up the Nagelring's Fallen Lunatics in the jewelry slot, as they had proven to be very useful throughout the campaign. The weapon slot presented the most difficult decision, with Snowbelle forced to choose between the Unstable Scepter and the Triumvirate. The Unstable Scepter would boost the damage of Frozen Orb by about 50% over its current value (from 950% weapon damge up to 1300% weapon damage) and also trigger a second explosion. It was obvious that this would be pretty awesome and something that Snowbelle would want eventually.
However, the Triumvirate was actually the better option if also the more difficult of the two to use. The Triumvirate allows your signature spells to stack the damage of Frozen Orb up to three times, adding 400% weapon damage with each stack. At max stacks, this can get the damage of Frozen Orb up to 1200 + 950 = 2150% weapon damage (!!!) The ability stacks by using your signature spells, which would be the Glacial Spike version of Magic Missile in Snowbelle's case, and has to be refreshed every 6 seconds. Although that's not a long amount of time, it was easy enough to toss out a Glacial Spike once every six seconds to keep the Triumvirate fully stacked, and I had plenty of practice in using a stacking ability from Spyderman's Soul Harvest skill. (The Triumvirate has to be renewed more frequently than Soul Harvest but is also much easier to get back to full stacks if it would lapse, just auto-attack three times in succession.) The damage from the Triumvirate was so great that it had to be my choice between these two options.
I thought that it would be fun to run a single round of bounties on Torment I difficulty as a way of breaking in Adventure Mode for Snowbelle. It turned out that adding the equipped legendary properties of Frostburn and the Triumvirate (mostly the Triumvirate) made Snowbelle into an icy angel of death. Her Frozen Orb was absolutely unstoppable when fully stacked, and for good reason given that it was doing more than double its previous damage output. I found that a normal Orb hit would do roughly 15-20 million damage and a critical hit would deal 50-65 million damage. The non-critical hit Orbs were easily enough to one-shot every enemy that wasn't an elite, and the critical hit Orbs were almost enough to one-shot the elites. Note that in the picture above, Snowbelle's Frozen Orb was critically striking for 66 million damage against an elite who had 83 million HP. Yes that was with the 15% damage boost from the elite sitting inside the Slow Time field, but still, holy moley. This was a double elite group and they went down like bowling pins. It was an incredible feeling of power and I knew that Snowbelle wouldn't be sticking around in Torment I difficulty for very long.
While doing a full collection of bounties from all five Acts, I decided that this would be a good time to craft a Hellfire Amulet for Snowbelle. She still had a rare amulet and it could definitely be improved by picking up a legendary item with the potential for a useful additional passive ability. This required picking up the "machine keys" from the various Keywardens across the first four acts, something which Snowbelle had done alongside collecting those bounties. Then she used those machines to enter the special boss refights in the various hidden realms so that she could pick up the "organ" crafting materials used for the Hellfire Amulet. I typically don't do these fights too often because they're dangerous and only useful for the Hellfire Amulet. Most of them pit the player against a pair of major bosses together at the same time, like Leoric and Maghda above. I found the toughest one to be the Realm of Fright encounter with Diablo, since the big demon will summon other act end bosses to help out. Snowbelle took some serious damage here and needed to drink her Potion for safety. Nonetheless, Frozen Orb was simply too powerful for these monsters to have much of a chance, and Snowbelle was able to acquire the crafting materials that she needed. What Hellfire Amulet would she get?
There was good news and bad news on the subsequent crafting roll. On the positive side, the Hellfire Amulet actually rolled as Ancient at 10% odds, nice! Unfortunately almost everything else about this amulet was on the negative side, starting with the Intelligence roll which came out near the absolute minimum for an Ancient amulet (which can be anywhere from 850-1000). Amulets can roll a lot of different options for their affixes and the other two were both duds for Snowbelle. Resource cost reduction was far inferior to the other good stuff that could appear (Vitality, crit chance/damage) while lightning damage was obviously useless. I rerolled the lightning damage affix into Vitality at the Enchantress, only to find that the Hellfire Amulet was still barely better than the current rare item. Even worse, removing the amulet dropped Snowbelle's Recovery stat almost to nothing and that was very dangerous for combat. There's a genuine need to have a robust amount of life regeneration in Diablo 3 because it's not possible to avoid incoming enemy damage entirely. Nor was the Dominance passive particularly great for Snowbelle either, granting a modest shield function which would be "nice to have" but not essential. Ultimately I ended up sticking with Snowbelle's current amulet, crazy as it might seem to use a rare item over an Ancient legendary option. I could revist the topic of Hellfire Amulets later on when Snowbelle had more Forgotten Souls available to play around with.
The rest of the bounty hunting expedition across Torment I difficulty was a bit of a formality. Frozen Orb decimated everything in Snowbelle's path and she was consistently finishing a full act's worth of bounties in less than 15 minutes time. Spyderman sometimes needed as much as 90 minutes of real world time to achieve the same feat when I was pushing him into new and unexplored difficulties. Noteworthy items included finding the Illusory Boots legendary item, which increased Snowbelle's stats and added the unique property of being able to move unhindered through enemies. An encounter with a Gelatinous Spawn version of a Treasure Goblin in the Gardens of Hope also proved to be highly profitable, as Snowbelle was strong enough to kill each of the goblins before they were able to portal away. This was where a much better legendary amulet appeared in the form of the Eye of Etlich, with no unique property but excellent stats, especially in Recovery where Snowbelle was lacking. I was able to get a crit damage affix to appear using the Enchantress, albeit a weak version of crit damage at only +54% (the bonus can go from 50-100% on amulets). I could not reroll further because Snowbelle was running low on Forgotten Souls, and the Eye of Etlich would eventually be replaced by something better anyway. The net result was Snowbelle fixing her Recovery problem and returning to a point in time where she had a solid amount of life regeneration.
Malthael showed up as a bounty and he provided a fitting end to Snowbelle's brief time spent in Torment I difficulty. Some bounties seem to be more common than others, and Malthael shows up a lot less frequently than Adria as an Act Five opponent. He's one of my favorite challenges in Diablo 3 due to his high health, high damage output, and lack of an Enrage timer. Malthael represents more of a pure challenge of player skill as opposed to the DPS race created by some of the other bosses. Anyway, you never would have known any of that from this fight since Snowbelle had no trouble waxing the floor with the fallen angel. Note that a single Frozen Orb that landed as a crit dealt 104 million damage in the picture above. Malthael had 742 million HP on this difficulty; whoops, there went well over 10% of his health bar with that single Orb. Snowbelle needed less than two dozen Frozen Orbs to finish off the boss, and he was never able to do much of anything because the battle was over so quickly. (By the way, that "Pulverized" message at the bottom of the screen had been stuck there for several minutes, some kind of weird bug. No idea what caused it.)
As I'd done with Spyderman, I skipped Torment II difficulty and went directly up to Torment III with Snowbelle. The monsters here would have a little bit less than triple the health of the previous difficulty while dealing about double the damage that they'd done before. Snowbelle would also get to assign 100 more Paragon points per my self-created variant rule, up to 150 total points here for Torment III difficulty. I wanted to put 50 of them into Life for the +25% health bonus, and then I sunk the rest into the Offense tree. I checked to see which would do more damage, maxing out Crit Chance or Attack Speed, and it turned out that Attack Speed was the better option according to the Damage rating on the character screen. As a result, Snowbelle was now packing +10% Attack Speed, +50% Crit Damage, and +25% Life for her Paragon options.
I started doing another run of bounties to get used to the opponents here on Torment III. Somewhat surprisingly there wasn't much difference from Torment I difficulty, with Frozen Orb still crushing its way past pretty much everything. Normal enemies like these goats spawned with about 25 million HP and that was very much still in one-shot territory for Frozen Orb. I think that Snowbelle had been doing so much overkill damage in Torment I that the strength of Frozen Orb almost didn't register properly, strange as that might sound. At least the elites were no longer in one-shot range, typically requiring three or four Frozen Orbs to fall. That was still ridiculously easy though, and Snowbelle had little need for any skills beyond Glacial Spike to keep up her stacks and Frozen Orb to pile on the damage. Black Hole and Slow Time weren't getting much use because the monsters simply died too quickly. In the picture above, it quite literally looked like Snowbelle was rolling an icy ball downhill and bowling over the goats as soon as it touched them.
Snowbelle was on the hunt for improved gear as she sought to replace her rare items with legendary and set items. I found one of these in the form of Tal Rasha's Grasp, one of the Wizard sets that Snowbelle wasn't specifically pursuing but which had enough stat gains to be worth wearing for the moment. It's a pretty cool set for a Wizard character using multiple different forms of damage. I also made an effort to Enchant sockets into Snowbelle's rings so that she could start making use of some legendary gems. The two gems that were core to her build were Iceblink and Bane of the Trapped. Iceblink was a must-have for variant flavor purposes alone, adding a Chill effect and additional movement slow to all Cold-based damage sources. This legendary gem is unusual for maxing out at Rank 50 and therefore doesn't feature into the builds for super lategame characters, but it was absolutely perfect for Snowbelle. I really, really wanted to get it up to Rank 25 for its secondary property: Chilled enemies have 10% greater odds to be critically hit. This would be every opponent of Snowbelle and it would significantly add to her overall damage output.
The other legendary gem that I planned to use was Bane of the Trapped, and this one very much is considered essential for those super lategame players that max everything. Bane of the Trapped increases damage by 15% against enemies which have been hit with "control-impairing effects", with the control-impairing designation including every type of Cold or Chilled or Frozen effects. In other words, everything that Snowbelle dished out with her abilities. The secondary effect was less useful here, creating a 30% movement speed reduction effect that does indeed synergize with the base property, since Snowbelle already had lots of movement speed reduction effects on her Cold abilities. However, additional ranks in Bane of the Trapped would be highly useful since they each add 0.3% damage to the base property. Rank 50 in the legendary gem is another 15% increased damage for 30% total. The super high end players have gotten this gem up to Rank 150 for 60% increased damage, with the scaling on this gem better than pretty much anything else in the game. Obviously Snowbelle was never getting to that point but Bane of the Trapped would be a useful addition to her setup even at more modest gem ranks.
I still didn't know what the third legendary gem would be for her. Since I didn't have a socket in her current amulet, it was a moot point for the moment. I'd figure it out later.
Snowbelle finished out her set of Torment III bounties without any difficulty. The most noteworthy bounty came in the form of Belial, who I've found to be a rare bounty option indeed. For whatever reason he almost never spawns as a bounty in my games. Snowbelle had no trouble absolutely humiliating the big guy, emptying out her Arcane Power globe and finishing him off in mere seconds. I had three different achievements pop up for winning so quickly and without taking any damage. It was a wonderful feeling to decimate one of the bosses that gave me a ton of trouble back in the old non-expansion release game. The only item drop of any significance from these bounties was a legendary ring named Broken Promises, which was a modest upgrade over what Snowbelle already had. It wasn't a keeper item and would definitely get replaced later.
Or take this battle over a Cursed Chest in Act Five. Unsealing the chest caused a swarm of Bogans to attack Snowbelle, little swamp creatures that look a bit like gray-colored deranged frogs. The normal bogans are very weak and appear alongside stronger versions like the Tusked Bogan highlighted above. All of these monsters were textbook prey for the area-of-effect damage of Frozen Orb, everything dying in droves as each Orb one-shotted all of the little critters. In the picture above, note the four simultaneous crits (in yellow text) dealing over 100 million damage apiece and rolling right over several of the poor bogans. Snowbelle was firing wave after wave after wave of Orbs, with the need to maintain enough Arcane Power being her only limitation. Her kill count went over 100 and kept right on going as endless waves of monsters kept appearing out of the ground. Snowbelle ended up with an eye-popping 278 kills before the timer expired, and if there was ever a need for proof of Frozen Orb's power, this was it. I think that Spyderman's best-ever number of kills from a Cursed Chest was right around 120 - this performance completely blew that out of the water.
Snowbelle did find a powerful new weapon at the tail end of Act Five while finishing up with her bounty hunting. I found that this Aether Walker legendary item spawned with a +8% damage affix, and while that didn't leave room for a socket needed for the all-important Emerald gem, I could add a socket with the Ramaladni's Gift cube. Snowbelle had already found one of these herself and Spyderman had two more left over in stash that he wasn't using which meant that I didn't to worry about running out. I went ahead and added the socket while switching over to the new weapon. I actually hadn't thought much about the unique property on Aether Walker, making the swap mostly for the slight damage boost, only to find that it was very useful in its own right. This weapon removed the cooldown from the Teleport skill while adding a cost of 25 Arcane Power. That was a huge improvement and ensured that Snowbelle would always be able to Teleport out of danger without needing to worry about silly cooldowns. Furthermore, it made the Teleport skill much more *FUN* to use. I never understood why the designers locked Teleport behind annoying cooldowns in Diablo 3, as the ability to blink around the landscape was the whole point of playing a Sorcie in Diablo 2. This was something I specifically criticized in my initial writeups back then, too much focus on balancing every skill instead of coming up with stuff that was fun to play. Reaper of Souls has fortunately unlocked the Teleport skill as it was meant to be used through this particular legendary wand. The only limitation was the Arcane Power cost which kept Snowbelle from going too crazy with her teleportation.
With Snowbelle having thoroughly destroyed Torment III difficulty, it was time to increase the difficulty level once again and hop up to Torment V. This would bring the same increase of slightly less than triple monster health and about double monster damage as compared to Torment III, along with double the gold and experience. The gold in particular was needed as Snowbelle was unable to upgrade her non-legendary gems further due to a lack of enough funds to pay the jeweler. For her Paragon levels, I put as many points as possible into Critical Hit Chance, which was only 28 points because that expended everything Snowbelle had unlocked in the Offense tree. I stuck the remaining 22 points into Resource Cost Reduction plus the last 50 points into +25 Maximum Arcane Power. The biggest thing holding back Snowbelle was lack of enough Arcane Power to keep spamming her Frozen Orbs. More total Arcane Power and more Resource Cost Reduction would both help with that effort.
Since Snowbelle had plenty of Horadric Cache crafting materials at her disposal, I decided to spend her time in the Nephalem Rifts instead of hunting more bounties. This started with the standard Nephalem Rifts in order to pick up some more keys for the Greater Rifts. I found that Snowbelle's progress on Torment V remained quite fast, especially in comparison to Spyderman, although not quite to the same extent as before. Normal monsters could now absorb a Frozen Orb without dying instantly and required 2-3 castings of the spell. Dealing with elites involved an actual battle now, with the opportunity to bring in Black Hole for its crowd control and Slow Time for its damage buff, rather than tossing an Orb and running on past to the next group. When an elite popped up with the Missile Dampening affix, the resulting light show was a spectacular array of multiple Frozen Orbs spinning together in unison. Combined together with the Orbiter monster affix in this case, it was a bit like a fireworks show going off.
Once Snowbelle had her Greater Rift keys in hand, she began the effort to upgrade her legendary gems. I had a burning desire to take Iceblink up to Rank 25 to unlock that 10% additional crit chance bonus, and I was determined to push Snowbelle and see if she was strong enough to make it happen. I had earlier knocked out the first five ranks at Rift 16 difficulty (paying to empower that rift) while finishing with 9:35 remaining on the timer. This time I increased the challenge to Rift 19, not paying to empower the rift for lack of sufficient gold, with Rift 19 being the point where Iceblink would be able to pick up the maximum four ranks with 100% upgrade chance on each one. (The odds to increase the level of a legendary gem are 100% if the Rift cleared is 10 or more levels higher than the gem's ranking, then goes down from there.) Snowbelle blazed through that obstacle and finished Rift 19 with 9:42 to spare, sheesh. Next up was Rift 23 to upgrade Iceblink to Rank 13, and once again Snowbelle shattered the monsters and finished the rift with 9:20 left. Rift 23 was essentially equivalent to her current Torment V difficulty and she was absolutely killing it. How much further could she go?
One of the items that dropped from this Greater Rift run was the Compass Rose set ring, and it actually popped up as Ancient! This was way better than the rare ring that Snowbelle had been wearing and I happily made the switch despite not gaining the set bonus. Sadly, the Endless Walk set was not the proper jewelry set for Snowbelle, however. Although the 50% damage reduction while moving would certainly be nice to have, Snowbelle would never be able to make use of the 100% damage bonus for standing in place. Unlike Spyderman who tended to stand in place tossing out spider jars, Snowbelle was on the move constantly. There's a slight delay of about half a second after Frozen Orb is cast and before the next one can go off, and Snowbelle used this very brief interval for repositioning. I was constantly making slight adjustments in her position to line up the next Orb to hit as many enemies as possible, making this set of items a poor fit. Too bad this item couldn't have gone over to Spyderman, who would have loved it!
Snowbelle had destroyed Rift 23 and that meant it was time to move on to Rift 27, which would allow her to take Iceblink up to Rank 17. Only two more Greater Rifts needed to hit the secondary property at Rank 25 if all went according to plan. Rift 27 was halfway between Torment VI and Torment VII difficulties, and the monsters were definitely getting a bit more sturdy here. With normal enemies now appearing with 350 million HP, it took roughly 3-4 Orbs apiece to kill them with elites requiring correspondingly more work. Monster damage was also still scaling up with these additional rift levels, and Snowbelle didn't have much in the way of damage reduction to mitigate that risk. She would gain 60% damage reduction eventually when she filled out the Delsere's Magnum Opus set of items, but for the moment she was dependent on her wits and her positioning. I made it to the Rift Guardian boss at the end, Agnidox, with plenty of time to spare and found that his fire-based attacks hit particularly hard. I seem to remember having the same experience with Spyderman, with this particular Rift Guardian having unusually high damage. Agnidox forced Snowbelle to drink her Potion, and that should have been a sign to back off and treat the fight more carefully. Instead I kept spamming Frozen Orbs up in his face, trying to get the Audacity passive 30% damage bonus for being at close range. Ooops, there went the Unstable Anomaly passive as well, Snowbelle's protection against dying going on a 60 second cooldown. At this point I did try to back out of the fight and get some distance but apparently I wasn't fast enough. Unstable Anomaly only provides a shield for four seconds and went it went away, so did Snowbelle:
Ugh, a totally unnecessary death caused by reckless play on my part. This was not a case of the Internet connection dropping and dying due to lag, or a death suffered in the early stages of the game before my character had access to all of their skills. This was completely on me and represented a failure to evaluate the seriousness of the situation correctly. If Snowbelle had been a Hardcore character, this would have been the end of the road for her. What made this all so needless was the amount of time remaining for the Greater Rift; roughly half of the timer was still left. I easily could have pulled back with Snowbelle and let some of her cooldowns wear off, then engage again in complete safety. This was dumb, dumb, dumb on my part. I'd been playing with reckless abandon due to the strength of Frozen Orb and the game finally called me on it.
After reviving, Snowbelle had no trouble finishing off Agnidox and completing the Greater Rift. There was still 6:20 remaining even after factoring in the lost time for the death, driving home the point that the whole thing had been unnecessary. This death meant that Iceblink could only be upgraded three times, up to Rank 16, and it was going to take at least three more Greater Rift runs to complete the process of reaching Rank 25. If there was a consolation prize here, it was the fact that Agnidox dropped the Shrouded Mask, the first item in the Delsere's Magnum Opus set. The stats were worse than Snowbelle's current helmet and there was no benefit to wearing a single item in the set, so I placed it in stash for now to revist later.
Did I learn my lesson from this whole experience? Ummm, not really. Next I had Snowbelle try Greater Rift 30, equivalent to Torment VII difficulty, and she managed to beat that one with 4:32 to spare after a few more close calls. It was clear that the margin for error was decreasing as I continued to dial up the rifts to higher levels, and it also served again to reinforce how quickly the rifts become more difficult to clear before the timer runs out. Snowbelle could complete Rift 23 with almost ten minutes to spare but had less than half of that time remaining on Rift 30. Anyway, she picked up enough gold from this process to upgrade her best Emerald to the highest tier, Flawless Royal status, with the maximum bonus of +130% critical hit damage. The Damage rating on the character screen was up to 589k at this point while running her standard Magic Weapon skill.
Next up I had Snowbelle try her hand at Rift 34, which would allow her to continue upgrading Iceblink with four more ranks. This was almost equivalent to Torment VIII in difficulty and in retrospect I'm not sure why I decided to jump up another four rift levels after struggling somewhat to finish Rift 30. I think that on some level I was tired of smashing everything with Frozen Orb and wanted a real challenge, testing to find the limits of what Snowbelle could accomplish at the current moment. This is not something that I'd do with a Harcore character, but then again we'd already seen that Snowbelle wasn't a Hardcore character, and what's the point of playing the game if you're not willing to take some risks and push up against your limits? Rift 34 continued to increase the monster health even further, with elites now spawning with more than a billion HP apiece, and Snowbelle's Frozen Orb was still doing about 40 million damage on normal hits and 160 million damage on critical hits. Despite several scary close calls (with few pictures because I was concentrating on playing and not reporting), Snowbelle did make it to the Rift Guardian with about two minutes to spare. This time I played more carefully and avoided any fatal situations with Ember, only to have another problem pop up:
Snowbelle simply ran out of time. This was the first time that this happened to me in a Greater Rift, and I didn't even know previously that a timer appears and counts down the final minute on the screen. Snowbelle managed to take out about two thirds of the Rift Guardian's lifebar and then the timer hit zero. I thought that the rift would simply end at this point, but nope, the battle continued and Snowbelle was even rewarded with the usual assortment of items after achieving victory. However, Urshi did not upgrade any of the legendary gems afterwards, as I had known she wouldn't. Since any attempt at a Greater Rift does cost a rift key, this mechanic does a good job of keeping players from frivolously chasing after rifts that their character isn't strong enough to complete. Anyway, I had tested the limits of Snowbelle and managed to find them. She did not have enough damage at the moment to complete Rift 34 at Torment VIII difficulty. I would need to find better equipment and come back later to try again.
Fortunately this began happening almost immediately. Snowbelle had been using her blood shards to gamble for the Wizard off-hand items (sources) in the hopes of finding something of Ancient legendary class that also held a useful property. The best off-hand item that she'd turned up thus far was the Mirrorball, a source that caused the Magic Missile skill to fire two projectiles instead of one. This was mildly useful since Magic Missile with the Glacial Spike rune was still part of Snowbelle's setup, but only mildly because those auto-attacks were mostly used for stacking up the Triumvirate's passive, not dealing damage. Snowbelle had experienced a run of terrible luck with Kadala's gambling earlier, with only one legendary item appearing in about fifty gambles. Her luck was about to flip here as two different gambled sources hit and hit big at almost the same time:
The first item to appear was Winter Flurry, which rolled as Ancient legendary and looked to be the absolutely perfect source for Snowbelle. In addition to getting the Ancient bonus to Intelligence and Vitality and raw damage, Winter Flurry also contained a bonus of 19% more damage to Cold skills, plus I was able to roll the maximum possible +10% crit chance with the Enchantress! The unique property also looked brilliant for Snowbelle, with enemies killed by Cold damage having a 20% chance to release a Frost Nova. Even with a reduced proc coefficient, that would be going off all the time for Snowbelle since one hundred percent of her damage was Cold-based. Surely this had to be the perfect item for Snowbelle, right?
Under any other circumstances it would have been. However, the Triumvirate itself also appeared from the same round of gambling. The unique property had been extracted into Kanai's Cube by Spyderman, one of those rare cases where a class-specific item appeared for a different class, and this was the first time that Snowbelle herself had seen the Triumvirate appear. This item was clearly weaker in every way from a statistical standpoint, with less Intelligence, less Vitality, lower raw damage, and lower crit chance. The 8% cooldown reduction that I rolled at the Enchantress was the best that I could do at the moment; I'd revisit that property later if I had more Forgotten Souls to spare. And yet the Triumvirate was still the better choice here because it allowed Snowbelle to equip the Unstable Scepter via Kanai's Cube, letting her unite both the Triumvirate and the Unstable Scepter together for the strongest possible Frozen Orbs. That had to be the top goal over getting the slightly better stats from an Ancient version of an off-hand item. Ideally, Snowbelle would eventually be able to get Ancient (and maybe someday Primal Ancient) versions of both the Triumvirate and the Unstable Scepter. Thus Winter Flurry was somewhat sadly stashed at the moment for potential later use.
Now powered up with both the Triumvirate and the Unstable Scepter, Frozen Orb was outputting an astonishing 2600% weapon damage. Keep in mind that this was attached to a skill with no cooldown, a reasonable resource cost at 30 Arcane Power, and carried mass area-of-effect damage on each casting. The Unstable Scepter also added a second detonation to Frozen Orb, taking place about half a second after the initial detonation at the tail end of the projectile's travel. While the distance was a bit too far to target enemies caught in the double explosion with any precision, it worked wonders against heavily clumped up opponents in big mobs. Something was going to get hit by the double explosion in there, much like the way that inaccurate early cannons were aimed into the middle of battlefield formations under the assumption that they were accurate enough to hit some poor fool. This newfound damage potential was enough for Snowbelle to return back to the Greater Rifts once again, dropping down to Rank 32 instead of the previous uncompleted Rank 34. This time Snowbelle completed the test with flying colors, clearing the Rift with a full 7:57 remaining - not even close. Two of these Greater Rift runs were enough to upgrade Iceblink to the coveted Rank 25 (despite failing two separate 80% upgrades!) and unlock that 10% crit chance against Chilled opponents.
The ring into which Iceblink had been socketed also deserves attention. Snowbelle found the Restraint ring in the Bastions of Will set, and once again she had managed to turn up an Ancient item with its boosted stats. I mentioned before how the Compass Rose + Traveller's Pledge set had been the wrong jewelry set for Snowbelle since she didn't stand in place long enough to get the damage bonus. By way of contrast, this Bastions of Will set was the absolute perfect jewelry setup for Snowbelle. It grants a damage bonus of 50% for using a resource generating attack and then another 50% damage bonus for employing a resource spending attack. This was a perfect match for Snowbelle's constant interspersing of Glacial Spike + Frozen Orb, which would allow her to keep the full 100% bonus in play at all times. Now Snowbelle just needed to find the other half of the set in the form of the Focus ring, which Spyderman had found something like four different times. Eventually she'd get lucky, and if she didn't, I could make my own luck via gambling for rings.
With the double legendary items empowering Frozen Orb, I increased the difficulty level yet again to Torment VII. There's a major breaking point between Torment VI and Torment VII, with the first six Torments corresponding to three Greater Rift levels and the following Torment VII+ difficulties corresponding to five Greater Rift levels. Stated more simply, going up each additional level would be more significant from here on out. Monsters on Torment VII difficulty had almost 25 times the health and about nine times the damage as compared to Torment I where Snowbelle had started Adventure Mode. On the positive side Snowbelle was able to assign even more Paragon skill points, up to 350 of the 515 that I had earned on this account thus far, and she was starting to pick up enough experience to earn more Paragon levels on a consistent basis. (Spyderman had finished with 509 Paragon levels by way of reference; anything after that was Snowbelle's contribution.) I wasn't entire sure how Snowbelle would hold up here on Torment VII and tried to take things cautiously by initiating another round of bounties. I shouldn't have been concerned; she tore through the spiders at the Cursed Chest above and finished 155 of them before the timer expired. It looked like she was more than capable of dealing with this group of opponents.
The Act One bounties on Torment VII did yield another significant item: yet another Ancient item named Crown of the Primus. The stat gains were solid here after rerolling one of the affixes into 991 Vitality at the Enchantress, although this still wasn't ideal since the helmet lacked critical strike chance. I wasn't too worried since this legendary item would have to be replaced by the Shrouded Mask eventually, the helmet in the Delsere's Magnum Opus set. In the meantime, the Crown of the Primus would be a fantastic item due to its unique effect of adding every rune to the Slow Time skill. Snowbelle had been using the Time Warp rune for ages: +15% damage for enemies caught in the bubble of slowed time. This helmet now added the other four runes: 80% speed reduction (up from 60%), 12 second cooldown (down from 15 seconds), 25% less damage taken from enemies caught by Slow Time, 10% additional attack speed for Snowbelle inside the bubble, and a 5 second stun for any monsters entering or exiting the Slow Time field. The combination of all of those effects stacked together made Slow Time a very deadly support skill indeed. The only problem was the fact that Snowbelle was moving too fast to get much use out of the skill! I generally broke it out against elites and didn't need it against everything else. I was sure that Snowbelle would need Slow Time's assistance at some point as she continued to scale up the difficulty.
The rest of the bounty hunt went by very quickly. Snowbelle finished three Acts worth of bounties in less than an hour's worth of real world time, and that was with me killing everything along the way and not simply racing to the goal. There was one final key item that appeared here in the belt slot. It was the last inventory slot where Snowbelle still had a rare item equipped, and I figured that I might as well gamble and try to turn up something with a legendary property. The fourth attempt with Kadala not only delivered a legendary item, it yielded the specific item that I most wanted in that equipment slot. The Shame of Delsere had two separate crucially important properties. The first property was signature spells attacking 50% faster. This would have been incredible for Spyderman and might have been enough to get him to Greater Rift 70; unfortunately, this is a Wizard-only item and therefore couldn't be used by him as a Witch Doctor. What a shame. For Snowbelle, her Glacial Spikes came out at greatly enhanced speed as compared to before.
This tied in with the secondary part of the unique property: signature spells restore 10 Arcane Power. Remember, the biggest limitation for Snowbelle had always been the resource cost of her Frozen Orbs. Even with no cooldowns to worry about, Snowbelle could only throw out so many Orbs before running herself out of juice. This was particularly a problem early in the game when her whole Arcane Power globe only went up to 100 and each Orb cost 30 resources apiece. But now she had been able to increase her max Arcane Power up to about 170 and pick up some resource cost reduction to lower the investment into each Frozen Orb, making it much easier to spam out more and more of the icy globes of death. Even better, Snowbelle had to toss out Glacial Spike auto attacks anyway to keep the Triumvirate fully stacked. The attack speed bonus from the Shame of Delsere made this faster and easier to do while also restoring Arcane Power in the process. In fact, Snowbelle could completely restore her whole Arcane Power globe in about three seconds once she had this full setup in place.
This opened up intriguing possibility. Suddenly the 25 Arcane Power cost on Teleport (from her Aether Walker weapon) wasn't much of a barrier anymore. Snowbelle could blink around as much as she wanted without worrying much about running out of Arcane Power. I quickly became used to blinking and firing out a single auto attack, then blinking again with an auto attack, and so on. Suddenly Snowbelle was flying around left and right like a madwoman, dealing out cold death to anyone unfortunately enough to cross her path. It was intoxicating and incredibly fun. *THIS* was how the Wizard character was meant to be played, a return to the glory days of the Diablo 2 Sorcie once again. I was loving everything about this character.
There was no better way to finish out this section than by killing Diablo once again. Diablo is another one of the bounties that doesn't seem to show up very often, and with Act Four being the smallest act I've become pretty used to the different bounties that can pop up there. Doing this battle yet again revealed to me that it's a bit more scripted than I originally thought. The Realm of Terror portion in the second phase is particularly scripted, as Diablo apparently always summons exactly three Shadow Clones as he takes additional damage. Those Shadow Clones were pretty hilarious because they each died to a single Frozen Orb on this occasion. Looks like they were a poor imitation of the real Ice Queen. Diablo himself had enough health that he took a few minutes to chew through with the outcome never in doubt. This was another bounty that Snowbelle had no trouble claiming.
That was going to be the end of this page, only for Snowbelle to discover a portal to Whimsydale from a Rainbow Goblin in Act Five:
The secret area was every bit as much of a treasure bonanza as it had been on Spyderman's earlier trip. One thing that I didn't mention before was the almost comically gory nature of the deaths of the monsters in Whimsydale. The unicorns and teddy bears explode into bloody heaps when they perish and I tried to capture this in the screenshot above. I suspect this was all part of the developers trolling the reviewers and the outside public due to those complaints about Diablo 3 being "too colorful" before release. Whimsydale is not intended to be a difficult area to clear and it wasn't on this occasion, with Frozen Orbs now dealing around 150 million HP on non-crits and three to four times that amount on critical hits. Snowbelle left a path of destruction in her wake and returned back to town with a fortune:
Nine new legendary items, more than 140 Imperial quality gems, and roughly 35 million gold were the prizes from Snowbelle's conquest of Whimsydale. The gold in particular was very helpful as it allowed Snowbelle to finish upgrading all of the sockets in her armor with the highest possible Flawless Royal tier of gems while also supplying the same gems needed for those slots. I'd been carefully managing Snowbelle's gold up to this point and now I wouldn't need to worry about it any longer. She also picked up about 30 additional Forgotten Souls and roughly double that number of Death's Breaths, which unlocked additional crafting attempts and more rerolls for better item affixes at the Enchantress. One of the legendary items was even worth equipping, although Magefist was an odd item for someone with Snowbelle's variant background to be using. 10% additional crit chance was enough to put on the icky Fire-boosting gloves.
This was a good place to stop and take stock of Snowbelle's larger situation. She had upgraded all of her gear and jumped up seven difficulty levels, with Torment VII proving to be easy enough that it was already time to move on yet again. Snowbelle still didn't have an Ancient weapon either, which would greatly increase her damage once she managed to find one. Most impressively, Snowbelle had pulled off all of this without equipping even one item from her core set. She had only turned up a single item from Delsere's Magnum Opus thus far, and there was still that 8500% damage bonus to Frozen Orb waiting at the end of it when all six items were united. Finding these set items would be her next major goal moving forward.