Diablo 3

A guide to efficient grinding for a solo player

diablo12 - A guide to efficient grinding for a solo player
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Hey Diablo fanatics, I wanted to share a relatively non complex and general guide for the most efficient way to grind and increase your character power (while playing solo) in the shortest amount of time possible. Some disclaimers:

  • I am not telling you how to play or how to enjoy your personal Diablo sessions. If you don't enjoy playing the game while following the tenets of this guide, I understand. However, the gist of some of these points are not mathematically debatable in terms of how much they raise your character's power vs other methods. There is some leeway for different classes/builds and there may be small optimizations that aren't included in this guide, however in general this is the most efficient way to farm.

  • I am a solo player who gets to the top 10 of the leader boards within the first 2-3 weeks before quitting. It's impossible to beat group xp farmers after that time period, so a solo playstyle becomes unviable at least in context of placing high on the leaderboards. I play Demon Hunter/ Wizard but this guide works for any class. Obviously, I'm still a random guy on the internet so you can take this guide with a grain of salt but if you at least try it you may see a much higher increase in power than usual for solo play.

Alright, so now for the guide. I'm going to skip the leveling process as there are already many guides that cover this in great detail for every class. Something to keep in mind: The fastest way to increase player power is heavily tied with the most powerful build for each class. Because Diablo 3 rewards increase exponentially with difficulty, you want to play on the highest difficulty possible. This means you need to use the most powerful build available. Again, I'm not telling you how to play, but if you want to snowball as hard as possible you need to use high tier builds. Keep in mind when choosing your build that:

  • Do not go for extremely high gear/paragon requirement builds early. These are either rare or limited to LoN type builds, the best example is the old Firebirds (reborn as the LoN Bazooka build). These builds either require extremely well rolled pieces to beat the next best options or don't have enough survivability without paragon well into the 1000s. Basically it's just not worth your time as you'll have to run on a lower difficulty than an "easier to gear" build for so long that if the other build had been played you would be able to gear out both sets in a much shorter span of time. Like I said, these builds aren't too common. It does require a bit of class knowledge to know which builds to stay away from for early solo play but most S-A rank (non-LoN) builds will work fine.

  • Do not be afraid to jump between builds while gearing. The most common example is for Demon Hunters. Let's assume that Multishot UE is the strongest DH build next season. It's entirely possible that you get all or most key items for a shadow impale build before you get every item for multishot. Play the build that is the most complete, as this is likely the build with the most power at that specific time. Generally, having all key items for a build > a stronger build without every item. This also ties back into the point about LoN builds. You definitely should play them if they are your most powerful option, but you may have to gear up using a different build before you can get every piece.

  • Get Haedrig's Gift as soon as possible. This is likely common sense by now so I'm not going to elaborate.

Now let's talk about how to divide your time between the different game modes. Long story short, Greater Rifts >>Puzzle Rings Regular Rifts >>>> Bounties. Rainbow portals and Cow portals are also very lucrative but they're pretty rare and not something that can be deliberately farmed. Here are the dos and don'ts of grinding:

  • Do as many Greater rifts as possible, even when you don't have a complete build. Greater Rift rewards are disproportionately higher than any other repeatable activity in the game. This goes for any difficulty, as they provide far more legendaries (on average), gold, and experience compared to regular rifts/bounties, and they are the only way to get gem levels. A common pitfall is that people won't start Greater Rifts until they have a completed build. This will just slow you down, as you are more likely to find every piece for your build in a greater rift than in a regular rift and you're missing out on tons of gold/xp/gem levels/blood shards. A couple of paragon levels doesn't seem that important but it will add up quickly.

  • Only do regular rifts when you are out of keystones. This is the second most common mistake people make when grinding. Example: You can grind T14 rifts and the greater rift difficulty equivalent fairly easily. You keep running out of keystones, so you decide to run T14 rifts until you have 50 keystones. Your buddy is also grinding T14, but he decides to run a greater rift every time a keystone drops. Your buddy's upgrades will almost certainly outpace yours, so by the time you have amassed 20 keystones he will probably have enough power to increase his difficulty. Now you've spent the same amount of time playing, but you've traded a tier of power for 20 keystones. Doesn't sound that bad but understand that higher difficulties will snowball your power to the point that your buddy will gain a disproportionate advantage every time he raises his difficulty. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1. If you can already clear T16 rifts in 2-3 minutes solo then it doesn't particularly matter if you want to grind out 100 keys at once or only farm when needed, as you aren't going to increase keystones per hour much more with gear. 2. This is a solo guide, but if you have the opportunity to play in a group or get carried by someone on a higher torment level, you should consider staying in that session as long as possible as you'll probably get more rewards than playing solo.

  • Bounties are extremely inefficient, avoid them at all costs. This is by far the most common mistake and grinding bounties will slow you down a lot. It does not matter if you have the fastest build in the game on T16, bounties don't even compare in the slightest to the average power increase per time spent of a greater rift. Also, if you are playing online seriously consider joining a random bounty group to speed up this chore. You can double or triple your bounty clear speeds compared to solo play this way but it's still not even remotely close to the efficiency of greater rifts. Here are the 4 times when bounties are appropriate:

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  1. Fresh level 70s that need to complete their season journey and don't have any cube mats. If an item needs to be cubed for your build then you don't really have much of a choice, but if you play smartly you can live off just the challenge rift rewards and the bounty runs done for the season journey.
  2. You have every single item/gem for your build and you have most of your important rolls (sockets/cc/chd usually) on every item. Your weapon is not ancient. It is appropriate to grind bounties just to roll an ancient weapon in this scenario.
  3. Your build is almost perfect (close to full ancients, every piece has the best stats but maybe a couple are low rolls), but your amulet has trash rolls. Almost every build in the game wants an amulet with socket/CHD/CC/ELE%, and since this doesn't drop naturally + amulets cost the most blood shards these rolls are almost impossible to get. There are other pieces in some builds that have similar unnatural rolls and they are expensive (usually weapons/rings) so you should consider those as well but you really should avoid this unless everything else is OCD levels of good rolls. Fun fact: Ancient items only have higher Main stat and Defensive stats, and since a good amulet doesn't want either of those things then a perfect amulet for non-LoN builds doesn't need to be ancient.
  4. Your build requires or can temporarily benefit from a bounty only item/recipe, most commonly the ring of royal grandeur. I would highly recommend only doing the equivalent bounties on the act with the item you need, and ignoring other acts. This sounds inefficient because any materials from one act are "wasted" if you don't do the other acts in tandem. However once you get the item you want you can usually immediately raise the difficulty and start grinding greater rifts. This results in getting to T16 much faster where you will make up any lost time with "wasted" mats by getting a lot more of them then if you had done bounties while you were still building your set.

  • Save your puzzle rings until T16, don't be afraid to bankrupt yourself empowering greater rifts. If you can, join a random T16 group and ask to do puzzle rings just for the increased rewards, but this isn't a big deal if you just want to play solo. If possible, swap in a leoric's helm with an emerald socket into your build, as you can use as much gold as you can get. Ideally you will be able to empower almost every rift you do that isn't being pushed for a personal best.

  • Don't farm death's breaths. Yes, I know, this sounds crazy. Even with a fast sage build it's not worth it. I can't stress enough how lucrative greater rifts are, and sage sets obviously don't work in greater rifts. Therefore, any death breath farming takes away from valuable time in greater rifts. The mats required for the "upgrade rare item" cube recipe is too expensive compared to the time spent in greater rifts, even when farming efficiently as possible. You should aim to get every drop for your build naturally, and don't stress too much if you are missing a few pieces. I promise they will drop. Only consider this recipe if either A: there is one expensive item (jewelry/weapon) that you don't have AND you have a surplus of death breaths, or B: your build is mostly complete and you have more than enough death breaths to afford rerolls so you might as well spend the extras. The one exception: If you can clear T16 with a sage set close to your normal clear pace you may as well throw on Sage's, as it would be a waste not to. Just keep in mind if you are commonly starved of death breaths you are most likely not playing as efficiently as possible.

To finish I want to talk about clear speeds vs power, and even though I don't have a perfect answer there are still things you should consider. Keep in mind while building that an increase in power is almost always more important than an increase in speed, and speed builds have little importance until T16. Even when you get a speed build that can clear T16 you should still be spending most of your time in greater rifts with whatever the most powerful build for your class is. I also understand that speed builds are fun and if you enjoy playing the game that way then please, have a blast. Remember this is strictly a guide for efficiency. Most people recommend an arbitrary speed to grind at, i.e. they will say something like "Choose the highest difficulty that you can clear in 4 minutes or less" and to be honest, I don't have a good answer for what the most optimal speed is. However, here are some guidelines that can help you choose your difficulty/greater rift level:

  1. Don't play on a greater rift that you have a reasonable chance of dying on.
  2. Don't play on a greater rift where you may miss the timer in the worst case scenario.
  3. Try to match empowering rifts with your gold income while saving a slight buffer for rerolls.
  4. Only play on a greater rift with less than 100% chance to level up gems if it is the only way you can satisfy requirements 1 and 2. Once your main gems no longer have 100% chance to level up you should start leveling up gems for augmenting. Ignore this rule only if your build is complete and you can reliably squeeze another few levels out of your main gems.
  5. Legendary drops are capped out at GR90, so you may want to stay at this difficulty a bit longer as the rewards are less exponential past this point. However, if you can afford it without dramatically changing clear times you should definitely go higher.

Heres a few miscellaneous tips that are small optimizations but not necessarily required:

  • Don't be afraid to use Ramaladni's Gift, you will earn these faster than you can use them if you are playing properly.
  • Spend rerolls at the mystic to get all (or close) of the correct stats for each piece of gear, don't worry about fishing for high rolls until you are bottle necked or get ancient items.
  • Start augmenting gear at the 90-100 gem range, just choose whatever piece you are least likely to replace at that time. Worst case scenario, you can always just do an extra augment. You should never have to grind gems specifically.

TL;DR: Don't bother with Bounties, run regular rifts only when you need keystones. Spend most of your time in greater rifts, use the build with the most power available to you. Run as high of a difficulty as possible without having to worry about time wastes like deaths.

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