Snowbelle Part Four: The Search for Delsere
I continued onwards with Snowbelle as she made the transition from Torment VII difficulty up to the next tier of opposition at Torment VIII. Snowbelle had been thoroughly dominating the game thus far, with her character build and gear centered around the use of the powerful Frozen Orb skill. The combination of the Unstable Scepter and Triumvirate items was enough to crush seemingly everything underneath a blizzard of swirling icy orbs. Snowbelle's next major goal was to acquire the remaining items in the Delsere's Magnum Opus (DMO) set, which would enormously juice up the power of her Frozen Orbs to an even greater extent. She had found only one of them thus far, the item in the helmet slot known as the Shrouded Mask, and Snowbelle was not wearing it because she derived no benefit from having a single set item. My goal was to track down the remaining five items in the set and unlock the full power of the Slow Time skill.
I'll start this section by showcasing the skills that Snowbelle was using as she entered Torment VIII difficulty. I ultimately decided to drop Black Hole as a skill since it wasn't seeing enough use. Snowbelle was moving too quickly with her Frozen Orbs for the skill to provide much of a benefit, and the crowd control function alone wasn't worth carrying Black Hole as an active skill. I went ahead and replaced it with the Energy Armor skill using the Energy Tap rune, which provided a buff of 35% additional Armor and increased maximum Arcane Power by 20. Both of these were useful benefits from this largely passive skill. While it would have been more thematically appropriate to run Ice Armor here, I didn't see anything that I wanted all that much from its rune options. Perhaps I'd want the Ice Armor rune that adds additional Armor eventually, we'd have to see. I had also changed the rune on Magic Weapon from Conduit to Force Weapon, losing the 3 Arcane Power restoration on each attack in favor of a larger 20% bonus to Damage. With the new Shame of Delsere belt, Snowbelle had plenty of Arcane Power restoration and could opt into more total damage instead from this skill. Visible as well were the four passive skills that Snowbelle was running, which had remained unchanged since unlocking Audacity at the end of the initial campaign.
Snowbelle was in comforatable shape at the moment when it came to Horadric Cache crafting materials, and this meant that I could spend more of her time in the Nephalem Rifts. Here on Torment VIII difficulty the odds were pretty good to pick up two rift keys from each Nephalem Rift, and that would grant more entry tickets into the Greater Rifts where Snowbelle's legendary gems could be upgraded. I had a lot of upgrading to do on those gems, with Snowbelle progressing through the various difficulty levels faster than I could rank up her gems. This particular Greater Rift drew the graveyard area from Act Five for its tileset, and I've found that to be a fairly easy place to score lots of monster kills when it appears. These enemies had roughly 500 million HP depending on the type, while Frozen Orb was dealing out 225 million damage on non-crits and as much as 800-900 million damage when crits did appear (which was roughly 35% of the time). Non-elite opponents would safety die in two Frozen Orbs and could sometimes be one-shotted depending on the monster type. Bosses had quite a bit more health and could take longer to defeat; for example, a screenshot that I have of Leoric shows him with 12 billion HP on this difficulty level. That would take about a minute to polish off, well under the 3 minute Enrage timer.
The Greater Rifts are slightly easier than their corresponding difficulty level, with about a third less monster health and damage. I used the rift keys that Snowbelle had picked up to try her hand at Greater Rift 35, the rift level that corresponded to the same Torment VIII difficulty. The slightly lower health on these opponents dropped many of them down into one-shot territory, and I was blinking Snowbelle around in reckless fashion to progress through the rifts as fast as possible. It was a far cry from her earlier failed venture on Rift 34 where she had run out of time against the Rift Guardian at the end. Snowbelle had become much stronger in the intervening time and her only obstacle at the moment came from running out of Arcane Energy to keep tossing Frozen Orbs and blinking around the landscape. Snowbelle absolutely crushed the rift and finished it with 10:39 remaining, one of my fastest times yet. (There's a limit to how fast a character can move through the Greater Rifts because there are only so many monsters to kill along the way.) Then Snowbelle went right back inside the weird obelisk and completed Rift 36 with 10:28 remaining on the clock just to prove that the previous effort wasn't a fluke. With her knocking out these Greater Rifts in less than five minutes, it was clear that she could stand to increase the difficulty level. So much for Torment VIII, on to Torment IX.
I had crafted several Hellfire Amulets in the process of running these rifts and decided to switch over to the one pictured above. This version had the normal Intelligence and Vitality stats on it along with a good third affix that I'd rolled with the Enchantress: +89% critical hit damage. The max possible on an amulet is +100% and this was about as good as I was realistically going to get. Even better, this Hellfire Amulet had rolled the Cold Blodded passive skill, which allowed me to switch one of Snowbelle's passive skill slots over to the Glass Cannon skill, trading some Armor and resistances in favor of 15% more damage. For the socket in the Hellfire Amulet, I chose to use Bane of the Powerful as my legendary gem. 20% increased damage after killing an elite pack might not sound very good, but Bane of the Powerful gains one additional second of duration for each rank, and I was confident that I could get this up to Rank 50 for an 80 second duration. That would be enough for permanent uptime given how common elites are in the Nephalem Rifts. Finally, the secondary property unlocked at Rank 25 would definitely be useful since almost all of the major threats in this game come from elite opponents. Normal critters typically aren't very dangerous. Bane of the Powerful is a standard lategame choice for many character builds and I couldn't find anything else that fit Snowbelle better.
It was at the end of one of these Greater Rift sequences that Snowbelle hit on another streak of good luck. She found a copy of the Fierce Gauntlets, the Delsere's Magnum Opus item in the hands slot, and then a second copy of the Shrouded Mask item in the helmet slot. This gave me three total DMO set items, albeit two of them in the same helmet slot, and that was enough to start unlocking some of the set bonuses. The first thing to do was place one of the two helmets into Kanai's Cube and use the Skill of Nilfur recipe to reroll it into another item in the same set. The odds were 80% to get something useful, anything other than the Fierce Gauntlets being a good roll (since it was guaranteed to become something other than the current Shrouded Mask), and unlike the poor luck that Spyderman experienced with this Cube recipe, Snowbelle hit on what she needed right away. The converted item became the Harness of Truth, the DMO item in the chest slot, and that gave me three pieces in total. Now Snowbelle could equip all three of them (sadly giving up the Crown of the Primus which I would hold in stash for later use) and also pick up the Ring of Royal Grandeur's extracted bonus via Kanai's Cube. The Ring of Royal Grandeur allows a player to get the four item set bonus with only three items, and ditto for the six item bonus with five items, which meant that Snowbelle now had access to the second tier of DMO abilities:
Delsere's Magnum Opus works off of the Slow Time skill. The initial two item set bonus causes the cooldown of this skill to decrease by 3 seconds each time that a bunch of other skills are used. For Snowbelle, both her Glacial Spike (Magic Missile) and Frozen Orb (Arcane Orb) skills were part of that list, and it would be easy to drop the cooldown of Slow Time low enough to use it on a constant basis. This would eventually become critical because the DMO set relies on tagging enemies with a Slow Time field in order to get a massive damage bonus against them. For the moment, that six item benefit still remained out of reach. Instead, Snowbelle had access to the four item set bonus: 60% reduced damage while a Slow Time bubble was active. This would be 100 percent of the time given how easy it is to maintain at least one Slow Time ability on the field, and that damage reduction would be very much needed as the monsters continued to gain more and more damage. Spyderman could attest to how hard enemies would be hitting as the Torment difficulties kept going up. Note that Snowbelle did not need to stand directly in the Slow Time field to get this benefit, only have one active somewhere on the map - easy to do.
The one minor problem with the DMO set was its physical appearance, which had some kind of weird masked getup that didn't fit Snowbelle at all. I used the Enchantress to maintain the garments that Snowbelle had been using for some time, with the main pieces being the Dark Mage's Shade pointy witch hat and Shi Mizu's Haori for the chestpiece. I dyed everything white except for the hat and the pants, giving Snowbelle just a bit of a dark blue accent color to go along with her otherwise icy threads. This was a character both deadly and stylish.
Unlike the gigantic boosts in offensive capability that Spyderman gained from each additional tier of the Arachyr set, Snowbelle didn't see any significant alterations from picking up the first two parts of the DMO set. The biggest change was the ability to cast Slow Time repeatedly, and I tried to get some practice in the placement of the time fields since they were going to become much more relevant in the near future. Unfortunately I had been forced to give up the Crown of the Primus and its unique property of granting all of the runes for Slow Time simultaneously, which meant that Snowbelle no longer had the stun effect on the borders of the time bubble. The 60% damage reduction was noticeable, albeit something that functioned passively for the most part in the background. Snowbelle had enough freezing and chilling power that she didn't get hit all that often. By and large, her progress was mostly unchanged as she took on the Nephalem Rifts of Torment IX difficulty. I was gambling for more items in the DMO set and eventually turned up the Striders of Destiny, the fourth item in the set for Snowbelle. This allowed me to drop the Ring of Royal Grandeur in the jewelry slot of Kanai's Cube and switch over to the Convention of Elements. It added a bonus of 200% damage to each element, cycling through them every five seconds one after the next. I figured that 200% extra Cold damage would be pretty nice to have even if it was only active 25% of the time, and I chose this for lack of other compelling options.
I was still pushing forward with testing the limits of what Snowbelle could achieve in the Greater Rifts. She finished Rift 39 with 9:48 remaining on the clock, confirming that Torment IX difficulty was ready to be put into the rearview mirror. Thanks to all of the bounty hunting that Spyderman had done earlier, Snowbelle didn't need to extract nearly as many legendary items into Kanai's Cube and could spend more time off in the Nephalem Rifts instead. By this point, she had finished taking Bane of the Trapped up to Rank 25 and I had a decision to make about whether to rank up Bane of the Powerful next or get more ranks in Bane of the Trapped. Iceblink seemed to be OK at Rank 25 for the moment. I decided to keep going with Bane of the Trapped for the moment and come back to Bane of the Powerful later on.
Even Snowbelle did need to get more Horadric Cache materials on occasion for crafting purposes, and this provided a good motivation to jump up to Torment X difficulty. This was the opposition level where the Horadric Caches would each provide 10 crafting materials instead of 8, and as a result I never bothered to do a bounty run with Snowbelle on Torment IX. She might as well hop up to the next difficulty and get 25% more crafting items for her troubles. Her Frozen Orb damage had crept up into the 400-600 million range now on non-crits and could easily top a billion damage on critical hits, at least when the Convention of Elements was attuned to Cold damage as it was in this screenshot. I kept waiting for monster health to scale up beyond the point where Frozen Orb could kill them in one or two hits, and it kept failing to happen. At some point Snowbelle would reach her limits, but that moment hadn't arrived yet.
While doing routine bounty hunting in Act Three of Torment X difficulty, Snowbelle came across a Blood Thief goblin and slew it for a resulting reward of about 300 blood shards. She went back to town to gamble for some pants with Kadala, and sure enough another item in the DMO set popped up, the fifth one in total:
The Leg Guards of Mystery (what kind of name was that?!) made five items in total for the set. Snowbelle was able to swap back over to the Ring of Royal Grandeur once again via Kanai's Cube, therefore unlocking the full six item set bonus with only five items. Let's type out that full set bonus again for effect: enemies affected by your Slow Time and for 5 seconds afterwards take 8500% increased damage from Frozen Orb and Glacial Spike (and several other spells not used by Snowbelle). Excellent stuff indeed, and this was the goal that she had been working towards ever since I first conceived of her as a character. Frozen Orb was already coming close to one-shotting most of the opposition on Torment X difficulty. The full DMO set bonus was now proposing to increase its damage by a factor of 85 times over what was current. Yes, you read that correctly: 8500% increased damage = 85 times the damage. When Spyderman gained the full Arachr set bonus, he was able to increase from Torment VIII up to Torment X difficulty almost immediately. How big of a jump was Snowbelle about to make with her far more powerful skills? It was going to be a lot of fun finding out.
Not surprisingly, everything that Snowbelle could tag with a Slow Time field died instantly to a Frozen Orb. It turned out that she could actually skip Frozen Orb entirely and kill things with Glacial Spike alone, which was amusing to see but still not as practical as moving them down with the icy ball. It was actually a challenge trying to discover how much damage Frozen Orb was doing, and I took a whole bunch of screenshots trying to capture a damage printout in action. And yet I couldn't seem to capture the damage from Frozen Orb in an image! The whole thing was eerie: there were no numbers showing up above the heads of the monsters, just instant death the second that they were touched by a Frozen Orb. The picture above was the first time that I managed to get something captured in a picture. Underneath the "Slowed" text, there's a number that reads 28.9 billion damage. Not 28 million damage, 28 billion damage, and this was white text so it was not a critical hit either. (Snowbelle was previously dealing about 500 million damage so this was an increase of roughly 60 fold, pretty much in line with what the text of the DMO set had stated.) For the curious, these normal goats had right around 2 billion HP on Torment X difficulty, and therefore Snowbelle had overkilled them about 15 times over... with a non-critical hit from Frozen Orb. Yikes.
This right here represents both the strength and the weakness of the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo 3. On the positive side, the various class sets are all interesting to use and have creative ways of mixing the skills together with their unique properties. I never would have thought to create a setup like the DMO gear with its connection to the Slow Time skill, shaping the gameplay around the constant use of the time bubbles. On the other hand, the full set bonuses are so absurdly powerful (85 times damage bonus?!) that they strictly limit the available range of choices to players. I was having lots of fun with Snowbelle, but eventually her days will be finished and I'll be left with exactly three other Wizard character builds to try: the other three Wizard sets. If I want to do something else I'm out of luck. I can stick to the lower Torment difficulty levels but I can't progress too far without landing one of the set bonuses. Ultimately I don't think that this is a good choice from a design perspective, as it greatly limits the replayability of Diablo 3. I'll state again that I hope Diablo 4 has a better designed skill system that allows for more than these strictly limited class "loadouts".
With the full Delsere's Magnum Opus set bonuses in play, Snowbelle tore right through the remaining bounties in Act Four and Five to get a complete set of Horadric Cache crafting materials. I used the blood shards picked up along the way for more gambling, and amazingly the final item in the DMO set popped up before Snowbelle even managed to finish out the full set of bounties. Sometimes I have long stretches where I get nothing from Kadala and sometimes the items all seem to hit at once, with this being one of the latter streaks of good fortune. The final item in the DMO set was the Dashing Pauldrons of Despair, the item in the shoulders slot, and it appeared with some truly terrible stats. Intelligence was good and Armor was OK, but the last two affixes were awful and were reflected in major decreases in the stat comparison at the bottom. This was a rare opportunity to use the Law of Kulle cube recipe to reroll the stats on the item, essentially recreating it anew as if it had been freshly dropped. This is a popular option among extreme endgame players because these items have a chance to reroll as Ancient (or Primal Ancient eventually). The cost is steep at 50 Forgotten Souls and 5 each of the Horadric Cache crafting materials which forces an awful lot of grinding amongst those who want to keep rerolling items.
Snowbelle had no plans to go to those extremes, just the desire to get a less awful version of this particular item. The reroll came out much better, with the three key stats in the shoulders slot all available: Intelligence, Vitality, and Armor. I could then reroll the last affix into +15% life with the Enchantress, the best option that I could get since crit chance and crit damage aren't available in the shoulders slot. Equipping the Dashing Pauldrons of Despair then allowed me to take off the DMO item in the helmet slot in favor of the Crown of the Primus, once again getting back the unique property of adding all runes to the Slow Time skill. Now the time fields would once again stun enemies on the perimeter and decrease the damage of anything caught inside. I was enjoying the chance to showcase some of the different Cube recipes here while continuing to build up Snowbelle's arsenal of spells.
OK, here's the best example I could find to show off the amazing power of the newly souped-up Frozen Orb skill. This was an encounter with an elite mob of Mallet Lord opponents in the Silver Spire region of Act Four. Mallet Lords have some of the highest base health of any enemies in the game. They are slow-moving and hard-hitting opponents, easy to dodge in their attacks while packing a wallop if they should hit. Their hefty lifebars were reflected in this screenshot where both of the elites had roughly 15 billion HP. However, they were caught within one of Snowbelle's time fields and she managed to hit them with a Frozen Orb an instant after this picture was taken. What happened to these mighty lords of hell when confronted with the power of pure cold?
That happened. The Frozen Orb hit them and kept right on going - they did not. This was a true rarity where I managed to get both a "before" and "after" screenshot along with the damage printouts from the attack. Both hits from the Frozen Orb went critical and dealt 108 billion / 89 billion damage respectively. Needless to say, this was far in excess of what was needed to defeat the elites. In fact, Snowbelle could hop up two or even three difficulty levels and still find herself in a position where she could one-shot elite opponents. Elite opponents, not normal enemies! It was incredible how much damage Frozen Orb was doing against anything unlucky enough to be hit with Slow Time beforehand. Snowbelle celebrated by taking on Greater Rift 45 and cleaning it out with 9:57 remaining, barely missing out on a sub-five minute clear time. The only weakness to her new setup was an inability to Teleport around like crazy, as Snowbelle needed to be tied to the use of her Slow Time fields. This would inevitably slow her down moving forward, and I knew that the days of crazy blinking action were drawing to a close.
This was also reflected in the switch to a new weapon named Devil Tongue. Amazingly, everything that Snowbelle had been achieving up to this point had been done without an Ancient weapon or an Ancient off-hand item! I had been using most of her Death's Breath items to upgrade rare wands into legendary ones in Kanai's Cube without having a single one of them pop up as Ancient thus far. (This was one place where her luck was balancing out the ease with which the DMO items appeared.) Eventually this random sword popped up as Ancient with good affixes on it, especially the +10% damage affix, and I knew that it was time to make a switch. While Devil Tongue had no unique property at all and it would be a temporary choice for sure, the damage increase was large enough that I felt I had to make it. You pretty much have to use the maximum DPS weapon possible in Diablo 3 due to the way that everything scales off of weapon damage. I used the Enchantress to roll Vitality onto the weapon and then added a socket via Ramaladni's Gift for the mandatory Flawless Royal Emerald. I was sad to see the end of Aether Walker's Teleportation property, although at least I was able to extract it into Kanai's Cube for possible later use.
I had ticked the difficulty level up to Torment XI now as Snowbelle continued flying through the game. (I hope it comes across that Snowbelle was doing everything much faster in real-world time as compared to Spyderman.) She was spending most of her time in the Nephalem Rifts, either picking up more rift keys or running Greater Rifts to upgrade her legendary gems. I could not upgrade the gems fast enough to match Snowbelle's torrid pace as she kept venturing into higher and higher difficulty rifts. Snowbelle did her best to trap as many enemies as possible into each Slow Time field, and when she managed to catch an elite group together in one bubble, the result was a scene like the one above. That's a Molten group of foes detonating simultaneously, the elite and its minions all going off from a single well-placed Frozen Orb. The monsters on Torment XI were still very much within one-shot territory for Snowbelle, including the elites as demonstrated above.
This is a good screenshot for showcasing what combat looked like for Snowbelle. Ideally, I would advance her forward behind an unfolding wave of abilities. Glacial Spikes typically led the charge since Snowbelle had to keep tossing them out every 6 seconds to keep her Triumvirate stacks up, followed by a Slow Time field the instant that an enemy was spotted, with a Frozen Orb flying out immediately thereafter. Where monsters clustered together, this would often manifest itself in overlapping Slow Time zones that looked a bit like a series of Venn Diagrams. Narrow tunnels had the advantage of making it impossible for monsters to avoid the Slow Time fields, but they also presented the danger of making it difficult to avoid incoming projectiles. With Slow Time reducing their speed by 90%, I would sometimes find myself walking into a big cluster of arrows and talking a ton of damage in a hurry. Fireballs were easy to see and avoid but arrows could easily get lost in the chaos of battle. Open areas presented the danger of being flanked from multiple sides while also making it easier to dodge monster projectiles. I also found myself using the stun effect from Slow Time's Point of No Return rune all the time; there's a goat stunned in the picture above, for example. This functioned like Veigar's Event Horizon stun from League of Legends, only getting the stun effect right at the edge of the time field. Generally speaking, melee opponents were pretty easy for Snowbelle because they would run themselves into the stun and then die to Frozen Orb. It was the ranged opponents who were trouble, sitting back outside of Slow Time and needing to move the time bubble onto them for disposal. I started to get better at knowing how many auto attacks would be needed to place the next Slow Time field, marching them one a time across the plains of battle towards the next engagament.
Soon enough Snowbelle was up to Torment XII difficulty as she continued to close in on Spyderman's stopping point. I was taking things cautiously here, only going up one difficulty level at a time to accustom myself to its dangers before moving upwards again. Snowbelle found another portal to Whimsydale in the Eastern Channel of Act Two as a result of downing a Rainbow Goblin, and this time the treasure haul was even more absurd than before. I included the screenshot of her character sheet afterwards with 25 different unidentified legendary items. If ever there was a time to break out the Book of Cain, this was surely it. There was nothing terribly useful here in terms of stats, but Snowbelle did find the Horadric Hamburger among them, a popular item to use for Transmogrification at the Enchantress. I was happy with her current weapon's look (she was using Rimeheart's appearance for something suitably icy in nature) while still finding this legendary item to be pretty funny.
An increasing problem began to develop as Snowbelle kept cranking up the difficulty level. Although she was still able to plow right through her opponents so long as they were caught inside the Slow Time field, the damage that the monsters were doing put Snowbelle in ever-greater danger. This was the other side effect of dialing up the difficulty setting, as monster damage scaled up alongside monster health. The biggest thing that Snowbelle was lacking here was the same kind of health regeneration that Spyderman had enjoyed. Spyderman's Hex spell had been restoring 10% of his max life each second and that allowed him to absorb constant punishment without facing the prospect of death. As long as Spyderman could disengage from combat for five seconds, his health globe would quickly return back to full once again. Snowbelle had infinitely greater offensive output but lacked the same kind of regenerative abilities. She actually took far fewer hits than Spyderman (who turned into somewhat of a punching bag by the endgame), between the freezing/chilling effects of her Cold skills and the stuns dished out at the edge of the Slow Time bubbles. And of course individual fights were resolved much faster with Snowbelle who was still one-shotting everything in sight. However, when Snowbelle did inevitably take damage, it tended to stick over time because she was only getting 15k out of 1.5 million health back each second. This was about 1/10th the health regen rate that Spyderman had enjoyed and it made a big difference indeed.
I mentioned before how ranged attacks tended to be the biggest issue for Snowbelle. The image above provides a good example of this, with a series of purple energy balls flying towards Snowbelle in slow motion through a trio of Slow Time zones. When combined together with the Desecrator fires on the ground, there was essentially no way to cross the bridge without taking some kind of hit. Snowbelle couldn't exactly Teleport over every obstacle, not with the skill back on a 15 second cooldown now. This was a bigger problem in the chaotic mass fights that so often break out in Diablo, when there might be a dozen different things happening on the screen at once. There were many occasions where I would accidentally run Snowbelle into a cluster of arrows (which were particularly hard to see) and suddenly see her health meter drop down to zero. Or I might be unable to see what was happening in a corridor at all; there are a number of places in Diablo 3 where your character briefly can't see anything ahead because there's some kind of scenery in the foreground blocking your view. This was a dangerous artifact of the game's two-dimensional status, and it was always annoying when this would take place. At times it would have been better not to have the Slow Time fields active, since they could cause enemy projectiles to bunch together in a dangerous manner.
I did find a new amulet with stats that were good enough to be worth swapping onto. The Haunt of Vaxo came with a good Intelligence roll and then two fantastic crit affixes: 8.5% extra crit chance (max is 10%) and 85% extra crit damage (max is 100%). There are a ton of different affixes that can appear on amulets and getting both crit chance and crit damage along with primary stat was a real stroke of luck. I used the Enchantress to add a socket by replacing the fourth affix and then added Bane of the Powerful, trading off 10% Toughness in exchange for 13% greater Damage. I also shuffled my passive skills to pick up the Cold Blooded passive once again (since I was losing it from the Hellfire Amulet), dropping Astral Presence and going with Cold Blooded, Glass Cannon, Audacity, and Unstable Anomaly. In other words, mass damage skills aside from the crucial Unstable Anomaly protection against death.
The Haunt of Vaxo also had the unique property of summoning shadow clones every time that Snowbelle stunned an enemy, which happened constantly thanks to the Slow Time skill:
There were two such shadow clones that appeared when this effect triggered and it took me some time before I stopped trying to attack them when they showed up. I mean, a pair of shadowy figures appeared in a puff of dark smoke - what else was I supposed to think was happening! As best I could tell, the shadow clones didn't have a terribly significant effect in terms of damage, as they tossed out Arcane and Lightning versions of Snowbelle's Frozen Orb at enemies. However, they were still useful to have because they automatically would target the closest monsters, even if those monsters were currently hidden from view around corners or behind doors. I knew that there was something around the next bend if the shadow clones would suddenly start attacking, a bit like how we would use Hydras for scouting back in earlier Diablo games. Besides, any additional damage was welcome even if it was modest in the bigger picture. Note that here on Torment XIII difficulty the elites were spawning with approximately 120 billion HP, which was no longer enough to be killed in one hit by a non-crit Frozen Orb. While a high-rolling crit would just barely be enough to kill them in one blow, I could see that the days of rolling over everything were coming to an end soon. Or at least so I thought.
I was working towards two item goals at the moment, the last major upgrades that I could see to make for Snowbelle. The first was to find a way to get the all-important Unstable Scepter unique property onto her actual weapon slot. If I could find a way to acquire an Ancient version of the Unstable Scepter, this would allow me to equip the Triumvirate via Kanai's Cube and open up the off-hand slot for a stronger item. There's unfortunately only one realistic way to make this happen: rerolling the legendary item via the Law of Kulle cube recipe.
This recipe suffers from the extremely high cost of 50 Forgotten Souls and 5 Horadric Cache crafting materials per attempt, and with Ancient status only having about 10% odds to show up on each attempt, it could take an awful lot of tries to succeed. Fortunately the higher Torment difficulties start dropping a lot more of the Horadric Cache materials, with the Torment XII bounties delivering up 14 each of the Khanduran Runes and Arreat War Tapestries, and Forgotten Souls become much easier to find as legendary items begin to appear left and right. Snowbelle had enough crafting materials to try this recipe twice, and to my complete shock she managed to hit on an Ancient version of the Unstable Scepter on her second attempt. The resulting item had excellent base damage and solid Intelligence/Vitality rolls, outputting almost as much damage as Snowbelle's Devil Tongue sword even without that weapon's +10% damage bonus. I could have rolled the same damage bonus via the Enchantress but opted to go with a huge +22k life per hit affix instead. Snowbelle badly needed more in the way of Recovery and this was a way to double that stat, keeping her healthier out on the battlefield. I used Ramaladni's Gift to add the all-important socket for the Flawless Royal Emerald and she was in business.
With the Unstable Scepter now equipped in her right hand, Snowbelle was able to shift her Kanai's Cube weapon ability over to the Triumvirate, preserving the double Frozen Orb combo. This opened up the off-hand slot for the Winter Flurry item that Snowbelle discovered much earlier and had been unable to equip out of a need to maintain the Unstable Scepter + Triumvirate combo. Winter Flurry was clearly superior from a stat perspective, largely due to being Ancient while the previous Triumvirate item had not been, plus it had an additional awesome property not captured in the green numbers at the bottom: Cold skills deal 19% more damage. Since all of Snowbelle's damage was Cold-based, this was closer to an increase of 25% damage than an increase of 8% damage. The unique property of Winter Flurry also sounded great, however I discovered in practice that the Frost Novas definitely did not appear 20% of the time. Not even close to that. This was due to the item having a low proc coefficient, Diablo 3's way of making sure that area-of-effect abilities don't become crazily overpowered. Long story short, Winter Flurry was fantastic largely because of its stats, not due to its unique property.
This was also the point at which Snowbelle finished enough Greater Rifts to take Bane of the Powerful up to Rank 25. The secondary property of 15% additional damage and damage reduction against elite opponents was something that was hard to see operating in practice yet was surely helpful from a numbers perspective. Adding ranks in this legendary gem had also taken the duration of the initial property up to 55 seconds, long enough that it had near-permanent uptime. The egg-like shape of the gem's effect became a constant sight sitting above Snowbelle's toolbar.
Snowbelle had been running Greater Rifts at a difficulty of 55, the equivalent of Torment XII difficulty level. She'd been doing these without any serious problems, and with a newly upgraded weapon and off-hand item in place, Snowbelle was prepared to test out Greater Rift 60 for the first time. This was as far as Spyderman had been able to reach with his much more restricted variant setup, and anything beyond this point would be venturing into new territory. Snowbelle had already been operating on Torment XIII difficulty and she had no problems clearing out this particular rift, finishing with 8:27 remaining on the clock. Among the pile of loot that dropped after defeating the Rift Guardian was a green-colored ring. I'd been gambling rings for ages and ages in the hopes of finding the set ring Focus to complete the Bastions of Will set. Was this finally what I'd been looking for?
Well yeah, obviously, or else I wouldn't be telling you about it. Writing about Snowbelle's hundreds of failed gambles and non-useful legendary items wouldn't be very interesting. Regardless, Snowbelle had finally obtained the second ring that she needed to complete this particular item set, and this was the second major item upgrade that I hinted at a few paragraphs earlier. While the stats on Focus were inferior to the stats on the Ancient version of the Compass Rose ring that I was giving up, Snowbelle was far more interested in picking up the set bonus. Focus and Restraint grant a bonus of 50% additional damage when hitting with a resource-generating attack, and then another bonus of 50% additional damage for hitting with a resource-spending attack. This was absolutely perfect for Snowbelle's constant staccato pattern of Glacial Spikes and Frozen Orbs, alternating between the two skills that generated Arcane Power and then spent it immediately thereafter. It would be trivial to keep both aspects of the set active at all times, therefore adding another 100% damage boost on top of Snowbelle's already formidable abilities.
This was the last piece of the puzzle, the final item component that Snowbelle had been waiting to find. By clearing out Greater Rift 60, she had equalized the achievement of her predecessor Spyderman and could now boast of more than sufficient power to continue onwards to greater heights. It was time to dive into the final challenges: Greater Rift 70, Torment XVI difficulty, and whatever might lay beyond.