Snowbelle: Introduction

Following up on the success that I had with my Corse Spiders Witch Doctor named Spyderman, I plan to create a new Diablo 3 character. She will be a Wizard named Snowbelle and she will specialize in cold-based magic.

Ranged casters have always been my favorite character archetype, both in the Diablo universe and in the wider realm of strategy gaming. I spent most of my time playing Sorcerers in the original Diablo, and even more time playing various different Sorceress characters in Diablo 2. (I never did a solo character writeup for a Sorcie on my website because I had already played them to death by that point.) When Diablo 3 was released back in 2012, my initial non-variant character was a Wizard and that was the class with which I experienced my profound sense of frustration in the release gameplay. With the benefit of the Reaper of Souls expansion and a whole bunch of patching changes, I now finally have the opportunity to return back to my favorite class and get the experience that I had been denied years earlier.

Snowbelle will be significantly less restricted in her character setup as compared to Spyderman. Here's her variant rule: all skills must deal Cold element damage, none of the other three damage types (Fire, Lightning, or Arcane) allowed. That's vastly more open than the Corpse Spiders limitation with which I was working previously, and I'm therefore hopeful that Snowbelle will be able to make it further as a character as compared to her predecessor. Most of the Wizard spells have a Cold element option on one of the five different runes, allowing Snowbelle her pick of a healthy array of skill combinations. I'm planning on experimenting with a bunch of different skills during her run through the traditional campaign to see what works well and what comes up a bit short. I expect that I will end up with Magic Missile (with the Glacial Spike rune), Arcane Orb (with the Frozen Orb rune), and Explosive Blast (with the Obliterate rune) as the main sources of damage.

These skills were not chosen at random. Each of them gets a truly massive bonus of 8500% increased damage from the Delsere's Magnum Opus (DMO for short) set of items, and one thing that I learned from Spyderman is that players basically need to choose their class item set ahead of time and structure the rest of their build around it. The other skills that get the same damage bonus from the DMO set include Energy Twister, Shock Pulse, Spectral Blade, and Wave of Force so they may be options as well, with the exception of Wave of Force because it doesn't have a rune to change the damage from Arcane to Cold. The DMO set is also heavily based around the use of the Slow Time skill, the only way to apply that gigantic 8500% increased damage bonus, and that means Slow Time will have to be one of the assigned skills too. I actually didn't want to inclde Slow Time in Snowbelle's build and was effectively forced into including it due to the nature of Delsere's Magnum Opus. I still think that the class-based item sets are too constricting on potential character builds for this very reason. For the remaining skill slots, I plan to include Teleport because every Wizard needs an escape of some kind, and I'd like to have Hydra (with the Frost Hydra rune) just because I've never played a character that used the Hydra skill and I think it would be a lot of fun. Whether there will be enough Arcane Energy available to use Hydra together with Arcane Orb and Explosive Blast remains to be seen. It could also be the case that Hydra ends up being pointless because it won't get the DMO set bonus. I'll have to play for myself and find out.

There are a bunch of legendary items that Snowbelle will be looking to acquire to fill out her build. The Unstable Scepter + Triumvirate combo is standard for an Arcane Orb based build, and the Wand of Woh is awesome for pumping up the damage of Explosive Blast with additional explosions. If I end up going the Hydra route, Serpent's Sparker would unlock a second hydra and The Magistrate would grant each hydra the ability to shoot out Frost Novas. On the armor side, the Frostburn gauntlets (Cold skills deal 20% additional damage and have a 50% chance to Freeze enemies) seem like a mortal lock to be in use somewhere as an equipped item or a Kanai's Cube slot. I vividly recall gambling for a set of Frosties in pre-expansion Diablo 2 and being overjoyed when they finally popped up. That was in my freshman dorm room in college in the Fall semester of 2000, and though it's been a while since then, I've always had a soft spot for the Frosties item. There are also some interesting items that can buff up the Energy Twister skill (Valthek's Rebuke and Ranslor's Folly) which actually make it a viable skill by causing it to travel in a straight line instead of moving completely randomly. I don't expect to use them, but who knows, maybe. For her legendary gems, Snowbelle will definitely want to use Iceblink for flavor purposes if nothing else, and her build will also synergize very well with Bane of the Trapped since she will be chilling or freezing pretty much everything. I don't know what to use for the third legendary gem slot yet - I'll experiment and have fun figuring it out.

Snowbelle will not be a Hardcore character as I have no desire to lose her to a random Internet outage on my end. However, I will be doing my best to avoid death if at all possible and see how far I can make it on a deathless run. Her goal is to clear Greater Rift 70, unlocking Primal Ancient items for all future characters and establishing her mastery over the Reaper of Souls lategame. I would also love it if she were strong enough to clear a full set of bounties on the maximum Torment XVI difficulty level; whether or not that will be possible remains to be seen. Given that Spyderman was able to clear GR60 and handle Torment XIII difficulty with nothing more than the Corpse Spiders skill, I think Snowbelle has a decent shot. As I did with Spyderman, I also won't be using a follower for this character. I don't find them that interesting as a concept and I'd rather focus on my own character's development.

Snowbelle will start out on Expert difficulty level and play through the traditional campaign, turning the difficulty up or down (realistically up) from there depending on how things go. Snowbelle will be able to make use of the blacksmith and jeweler crafting designs that I found with my previous characters to avoid having to upgrade the artisans again, and she won't have to extract legendary items into Kanai's Cube that have already been extracted. Otherwise she'll be own her own in this quest, needing to come up with her own items, her own gold, her own gems, her own crafting materials, and so on. I'm certainly not dumping a bunch of legendary items with their level requirements removed onto Snowbelle, or dropping Flawless Royal gems into a socketed weapon. That would make the whole early portions of the game a complete joke for a low-level character. Snowbelle will need to come up with her own gear - that's the whole point, after all.

And with that background planning in place, the Ice Queen should be ready to make her debut. Here's to another epic journey against the forces of Hell.