The Tao of Magic Find
Ahh ... lets see here ... how about a somewhat comprehensive guide available on the forums concerning the Sorceress and Magic Finding, and a good decent build for working your way into the Tao of Magic Finding? This guide will concern the skills of Frozen Orb and Fireball, to be specific, though the general principles behind these skills will become very apparent quickly. When selecting the skills you wish to use, stick to 2 skill trees only, and max good spells in each. BUT NOT TWO TIMERED SPELLS. Personally, I am a fan of the orb/fireball build, though I use the orb/nova build on 2 of my VERY high magic find sorceresses simply out of habit ... (over 10,000 mf runs with orb/nova ... you get used to your skills working a certain way all the time). Other people have tried many other builds and have had varying degrees of success ... Firewall/Glacial Spike, Orb/Chain Lightning, Firewall/Chain Lightning, Orb/Nova, and Orb/Fireball are all fairly decent builds, provided you have the skill points, patience, and skills to put that pretty lil girl's talents to use.
Why Frozen Orb and Fireball?
When casting, you start off with orb (to slow the enemies down), static field a few times (if they are not lit immune, to cut their hp in half quickly), then orb-fireball-fireball-fireball-orb-fireball-fireball-fireball (till they die) ... You alternate the spells quickly and pump the damage out as fast as you can cast. This method, of course, requires some warmth and a decent mana pool, as it is VERY mana intensive with high level spells, but there is no combination of timered spells in the game that even comes close to the power of combining one timered spell with multiple non-timered spells. If they are cold immune, drop a meteor or two to help out while spamming fireballs (merc is invaluable here for tanking and keeping monsters still), but meteor is a synergy, not a main attack spell! If fighting fire immunes, spam glacial spikes in between your orbs to stop and slow the enemies further (again, glacial spike is just a stub-in for casting in between your high damage spell). I typically run with about 1000 life and 800 mana, with approximately 500% mana regen (level 12 warmth .. base level 3), and find that I do not require 50 mana pots just to finish a single MF run of all 5 act bosses... it's more like perhaps 2 full rejuvs, total.
What Is Magic Find About?
Please note that magic finding is, to an extent, loading your character down with otherwise fairly useless items ... handicapping your character in order to find better items. A magic find char runs a thin line between life and death, and dying is something you become used to. Unless this is hardcore, in which case you ALWAYS err on the side of staying alive rather than adding more MF... Ignoring your resists will result in serious disaster every time. The most important resists would definately have to be lightning and fire resistance, with cold following somewhat behind the other two ... Mephy's very fast looking blue-white ball that he throws at people (which usually kills them instantly) happens to be a cold attack.. It kills them instantly because they mistakenly dropped their cold resist to zero (or below) in order to max their lightning resistance, which does nothing against a cold damage attack...
Orb/Fireball sorceresses seem to go up fairly smoothly, because you start off with pumping firebolt and upgrade to fireball at level 12, with static tossed in ... at level 30 is where you want to have 3 points available for frozen orb, cold mastery, and fire mastery. In any event, no sorceress build is complete without telekinesis, teleport, and static field. If this is hardcore, I would go with a level 3 or so static field, just to give you a bit of breathing room when using it at lower levels ... at high levels, the only reason to have a high slvl static field is the range when recovering your corpse (softcore) ... You dont have that particular issue in hardcore, so just let your + skills take it up from 3. Use teleport defensively rather than offensively most of the time ... when you teleport, your merc goes with you. Use it to position him, and then step back from the fighting to cast immediately. Use it to retreat to a safe distance to let you heal him up before he dies ... Use it only sparingly to skip through hazardous areas, as it is quite dangerous going someplace you cannot see.
From 30 - 49, you want to max out that frozen orb because that will easily get you through normal/nightmare... After that point, go for those fireball synergies and get it nice and high for your backup spammable spell. When you have fireball/firebolt maxed, split points between meteor and fire mastery (or warmth). By then you should have a good feel for which spell is doing better damage for you, and work on the other, as well as noticing when you seem to be out of mana all the time! With a build such as this, neglecting warmth will be a serious pain. You want at least level 5 and let it go up with skill adders/items ... Spamming fireballs between orbs eats up mana much faster than just hosing the area down with orbs, but certainly gets the job done much faster too! For fire immunes, spray glacial spikes in between your orbs, and for cold immunes, spray fireballs in between meteors (while your holy freeze merc tanks them).
I always suggest holy freeze merc (act 2 nightmare defensive), because he chills and slows even the cold immunes, making it much easier to teleport through dangerous locations, and also making it easier for him to tank large, tough monsters. I keep a wand of Lifetap on switch so I can give him a 50% life leech boost vs those really mean monster groups. Yes, the lifetap will even work on skeletons you cant leech off of normally, but will NOT help vs a phys immune ... also note that you cannot curse the champion "possessed" monsters either. The act 2 mercinaries also have the added benefit of being able to use an Insight runeworded polearm ... the higher the damage (ethereal works too) the better, unless you are up against monsters that cast Iron Maiden. Insight can give you up to a lvl 17 Meditation Aura, which nets you an additional 475% mana regen.
Mana Regen Properties
For warmth, after a certain point adding more faster mana regen items does less for you than adding more mana. Having at least 150 points into energy will help a lot too, but if you are going hardcore it will be hard to squeeze that much away from your vit and still have the ability to take a few hits in hell...
- Faster mana regen = you fill the mana ball in less time.
- Higher max mana = more mana per second when regenerating mana.
When you empty your mana, your faster mana regen lets you go from empty to full at a faster rate than the standard 2 mana per second. Having a higher maximum mana level means that in order to fill that ball at the same rate, it has to give you even MORE mana per second. A combination of both warmth and + mana items works very well. You want to have barely more life than mana, to avoid the blood mana curse from the witches and baal in act 5 ... but if you never go to those areas, you can safely pump your mana up and not worry about it. I would, however, go with at LEAST 600 hp to avoid your typical 1-hit-kill in hell (this takes up about 100 vit I think).
You may also wish to eventually get 80 to 100 str to use higher armor types (upgraded vipermagi is somewhat of a good idea for the better defense, but takes 88 str to equip, and Tal's set armor takes 84 str to equip, while Skullder's Ire takes 97. Wartraveler boots take 95 strength.)
No sorceress worth her true capability is going to be effective without these skills...
- Static field takes away 1/3 of a monster's remaining hp per cast (capped at 25% hp for nightmare, and 50% hp in hell). This makes killing monsters go by MUCH faster. A sorceress without static field is seriously handicapped in boss fights compared to the sorceress that has the skill and uses it.
- Teleport is useful just for getting around, and a good fast casting rate makes it not only a good offensive but defensive skill as well. You can use teleport to position your mercinary, retreat from battle (hopefully with your mercinary), or you can teleport right on top of something multiple times and have your merc hit it each time you teleport.
- Telekinesis is useful for opening chests and breaking urns/barrels ... from a distance! This way, the traps are much less of a threal to your sorceress. This spell is also great for when the game is full and a lot of people mill around the stash to get their items ... telekinesis on the stash and you are in! You can use telekinesis on waypoints as well, and finally you can use it to literally teleport out of town! (Try it out and see! Cast telekinesis on any blue town portal from someone in your party when in town and you will use it to exit town instantly.)
All three of these spells are essential to a sorceress for proper flexibility on killing speed, travel, and just plain usefulness. A sorceress without one of these is handicapped, and not nearly as effective as one that knows how to use them (and uses them well).
Generally, you want to decide before you start the sorceress if you want to go max block... If you do, a LOT of your points will end up in dex in order to achieve this.
Also, you will want to plan out if you wish to use energy shield or not .... If you do, you are going to need more points into warmth/telekinesis, and a whole lot of mana .... a LOT of points into energy.
Obviously, if you do both of these, you may have a little more survivability in some types of encounters, but you will have very few points left over for vitality ....
For strength, I would say at least 60 str (to use frostburns for the mana), and possibly a bit more .... 4-socket Gothic plates take 70 str (4-Ptopaz), Tal's Armor takes 84 str, Skullder's Ire takes 97 str, Wartravelers take 95 str, a 3-socket Wealth runeworded Archon plate takes 108 str.
For dex, again, I would figure on max block or no max block ... if max block, you need about 140 points into dex (or more!!). If you arent going max block, you may wish to determine if you plan on using a spectral shard or wiz spike for the best fastcasting gear ... plus wiz spike gives that oh-so-tasty 75% resist all, +2 mana/hp per level .... it does, however, take 75 dex to equip. With a hel rune, this drops down to 60 dex required.
For energy, with a high-mana cost spell setup like this one, you are going to be drinking "smurf pee" pretty often even with 100+ energy in the build. This is, however, nothing compared to the cost of high-speed and high-level Nova.
For vitality .... in hardcore you want as much vit as you can pack in, plus small charms of vita anywhere you have room. For softcore, you can probably get away with about 100 vit and + hp from gear ... around 600 hp is survivable for a hit or possibly two in hell difficulty, but dont let your finger up off that full rejuv button. Always keep your merc between you and the monsters, never leave town without him. HE is your perfect shield ... you just have to feed him pots and take care of him.
Just Starting Out?
A few tips here and there for those with low level sorceresses.
- Level 1 - 15
- Socketed gear with chipped/flawed sapphires in the sockets will go a long way for extra mana. Alternatively, you can go with chipped/flawed rubies for extra life. If this is softcore, I would go with the mana.
gull dagger + angelic armor + angelic ammy + 2x angelic rings + tarnhelm + chance guards, and any decent boots/belt (I like death's sash and treads of cthon). All of this is useable around level 15 or lower, and gives a total of +2 all skills and about 270% mf (with average chancies and tarn). This setup is also fairly survivable at low level for mfing runs ... and should last you till level 30 without too many difficulties.
- Level 15 - 29
- Angelic armor/rings/amulet and a decent +2 or +3 fireball staff (preferably with 2 open sockets ... use Tir Ral for Leaf at 19). At lvl 20, nightsmoke is available, and Magefists at lvl 22. Most half-decent rare boots with good resists and run/walk + MF can be gambled at level 20 as well. At level 28, you can swap the leaf for an Iron Jang Bong to get +2 all skills and 20% fast cast (in preparation to roxxor the end of act 5 with frozen orb + fireballs). At 27, you have the option of equipping a Lore .... be stylish and pick up a 2-socket circlet. Lore has the same +1 all skills as the tarn, but adds 30% lit resist, which is sorely needed for diablo and many other mean critters in nightmare .... Allow me to point out the usefulness of magefist and frostburns ... Magefist (level 22) gives 20% faster casting rate, +25% mana regen, and +1 all fire skills. Frostburn (level 29) increases your max mana by 40% (nearly the same value as 2 sojs equipped...) Having both of these gloves available to choose from makes leveling up so very much easier...
- Level 30 - 42
- At 30, you want to add in a Rhyme shield, switch to nagelrings and Ptopazed armor, get a decent skill ammy or plain MF ammy on (or, if your resists are still low, go for a prismatic ammy and vipermagi). My personal favorite amulets are Chromatic Amulets of Luck. If your casting speed still needs some work, use a Stealth runeworded armor instead. Toss on some cow king's boots and a goldwrap, and you should be set to go till level 42 or so.
- Level 42 - 67
- Go MFing ... add some 15% res all jewels (or close to it) to your stockpile. They make good socketables into Vipermagi or Oculus, for the extra resists. Dont try hell till you are up over level 70!! Shop around and pick up a +2 sorceress skills circlet with decent resists and hopefully a socket or two, and add the other res all jewels. Alternatively, if you wish ... you can add a single-elemental resist from a few choice runes ... the most important ones to consider are lightning and fire. Harlequin Crest requires level 62 ... pick one up or find one if you can. Make sure you have the dex requirement to use a wiz spike if you plan to use one. (tip ... most people stick a Hel rune in their wizzy for good reason...) I would try to stay away from oculus, as it's teleporting effect is quite dangerous in hardcore, and fairly detrimental in softcore as well, though you could likely get by with it. Maxing your resists for hell running is a must, and you should seriously try to keep your hp higher than your mana for things such as baal runs, where the blood mana curse can give you a very bad hair day.
- Level 67+
- Continue leveling up .. by now your orb has long since been maxed, and fireball is well on it's way to 2k damage or better. Your main considerations for upgrades at this point would be belt, boots, weapon, and amulet/rings. Simply find things that fit your requirements, and remember that in hell difficulty, you die VERY fast without resists. 90% of the time, with a good cold sorceress, you can avoid being hit by physical attacks simply by teleporting away or freezing the monsters so that they can't hit you easily ... magic attacks, on the other hand, are pretty much autohit, and without resists you will die over and over.
- At level 99
- (please note, I doubt you will get there within 4 or 5 months... level 90 is difficult as it is, but quite achievable in a few months of work as an MF char), with perfect gear ....
- your max MF would be:
skullder with Ptopaz ... 148% mf shako with Ptopaz ...... 74% mf +2 ammy with 20% res all and 35% mf (best possible) ... 35% mf Nagelring X2 .... 30% each, 60% mf rhyme shield ..... 25% mf Isted occy ... 80% mf chance guards ... 40% goldwrap .... 30% wartravs ..... 50% Total: 542% (also ... +8 all skills...)
Isted gull .... 130% mf Total: 594% (only +5 all skills)
- (without the isted gul)
20 7% small mf charms .... 140% gheed's fortune ... 40% Total: 722%
- with these monstrosities instead...
ist/ist ali baba ... 159% mf 4x ist monarch ... 100% mf Total: 876% (again, only +5 all skills)
This is before you add in your merc, who's MF is added to your MF for his kills (and HIS kills only).
An annihilus charm would certainly help your resists, hp/mana, and give +1 all skills as well, but doesnt increase your magic find. The same could be said for a Sorceress Torch, with it's very very yummy +3 sorceress skills.
But what about hardcore mode... can't I get some MF together and still play with a good deal of safety??
- You want safety? ... for best safety, I would say stick an Um rune in a shako (or 15% res all jewel), get a stormshield (another Um rune in it), ravenfrost, dwarf star, magefist, and Um runed vipermagi skin (or 15% res all jewel). Also, make sure you dump the occy and use a wizzy to get around. With this setup, you have 45% phys damage resist, max resist all, 20% cold absorb, 15% fire absorb, +2 all skills, and plenty of life/mana added to your stats as well as a nice fast casting.
- If you want a mix of both safety and MF .... I'ld say go for full tal's set + rhyme, Magefist (for that 20% fastcasting to hit the 9-frame breakpoint), and nagelrings or dwarf stars/ravenfrosts/high mana rings (sojs if ya got em) ... You only need to add about 20% resist all to your charms to hit max resists with this setup. Dont forget to socket helm and armor with Ptopazes, though an Um rune (or 15% res all jewel) or perfect ruby in the helm wouldn't be viewed as a poor choice, given that it would be an awesome addition to a melee character with that in it as well, should you choose to give up MFing or (very sadly) lose your sorcie.
- Either of these equipment setups should be more than capable of boss running if you are careful and always keep your merc on his toes ... meanwhile, this merc should be equipped with some good life leech, and have a chilly attitude about him at all times (holy freeze). This will let you hide behind the tank and give you a lag shield for those really bad bnet moments that we all suffer from these days ... On your weapon switch, it is an EXTREMELY GOOD IDEA to have a wand with charges of the Lifetap curse. Cast it on those really tough boss packs or normally unleechable monsters to keep your merc alive. Remember, if your merc goes down, you will typically end up next to him unless you escape to town quickly!
- Now, some people dont have the luxury of all this kind of gear ... A Jeweler's (4-socket) plate of Amicae can come with up to -15 damage from enemy ... add in 4 sol runes for another -36 DFE. You can also find or gamble an Archangel's circlet of Life Everlasting (socket it through larzuk and hope for 2 sockets) ... Life Everlasting gives up to -25 DFE, and you can add up to 18 more damage reduction with 2 sol runes. You can also find or gamble for an Archangel's amulet of Life Everlasting, with up to another -25 DFE. With these three items, your phys damage reduction is already up over 100, which makes most of nightmare fairly easy should it come down to YOU tanking instead of your merc, although putting it all on him makes him well nigh indestructible vs phys attacks...
- Your best bet, however, would be in magic damage reduction... A pair of dwarf stars can give you as much as -30 MDFE together, add in a vipermagi for another possible -15 DFE (as well as up to 35% res all and 30% fast cast ... the +1 all skills is just gravy). You can craft safety rings/amulets with magic damage reduction (and possibly resist all as well). In this way, you take down a LOT of the possible magic damage you can take that your merc did not or could not block. This would just about let you stand in a firewall and take no damage at all.
Please be aware that these two types of equipment setups use a lot of slots, and it would be difficult to achieve the effects of both with just one set of equip.
For boots .... it's really nice to get dual resists that are high, though faster run/walk on a sorceress (especially a fast cast sorcie) isnt really of high priority... Typically, you will want some good rare boots that also have magic find. The best boots I have ever seen were 24% fire res/32% lit resist/26% cold resist (with 30% faster run/walk and 25% mf). If you have several boots to choose from, a popular choice is the infernostrides for the extra fire resist (vs diablo, of course). Beyond that, Natalya's set boots work extremely well, with their dual resist mod. Again, if playing hardcore, it is best to err with your equip on the side of safety rather than speed. Unfortunately, there are no boots in the game with faster casting, but that also means you can freely pick some good resist boots and stick em on without feeling like you are missing out on something.
For shields, I would skip any ideas of faster casting or +skill shields and go with a Rhyme. It is cheap, effective, and very useful for any sorceress in the game, really. It gives you the "cannot be frozen" mod, 25% resist all, 25% magic find, faster blocking, and increased blocking%. While those last 3 mods arent really essential for most sorceresses, I am sure there are many out there that greatly appreciate the first 2 (including me). For a shield to use with Rhyme, I usually use a Grim Shield, because of several factors: easy to find, gets a max of 2 sockets, requires only 58 str to equip, and defense of up to 160 or more... (most sorceresses can safely ignore defense considerations, but I also occasionally MF in Nightmare difficulty, and most monsters there just can't hit me.)
For armor, tal-rashas is the top of the heap ... also of mention is skin of the vipermagi. From the standpoint of safety as well as power, the vipermagi beats the tal's armor, as it gives you up to 35% res all, 30% fast casting, and +1 all skills. Tal's armor only has the advantage in resistance (albeit a massive advantage if you have the full set available, which adds 110% res all), and magic find (112% after Ptopaz). For best results, I would get a good vipermagi (34 or 35% res all) and upgrade it ... then socket with a 15% res all jewel (or something quite close to it).
For helm .... Harlequin Crest with a 15% res all jewel is perfect, or you can go for Ptopaz if your resists are already maxed... Several other choices are rare circlet type helms with +2 all sorc skills with 20% fast casting and up to 20% res all (Can even get them with 2 sockets! mmm ... +2 sorcie skills with 20% fcr and 50% res all would be yummy! Of course, the chances of that turning up would be on the order of finding Tyreal's Might twice in the same week!), and nightwing's veil or andy's fugly. Tal's mask, of course, would go with the full tal set if you wish to use it. As for the circlet ... there is one merchant in every single town that allows you to "gamble" for an item ... when you get up over level 80, your ability to gamble a +2 skills circlet type item gets very good, though this is mainly with the coronets rather than the normal circlets ... you have a chance at +2 on a circlet when you get to level 87 I believe. Other than that, you can FIND a +2 sorc skill circlet in the game by running act 5 nightmare (have actually gotten shenk to drop me a +2 pally circlet and a +2 amazon circlet, so I know he can drop +2 sorceress).
For weapon (orb) ... I would use a Death's Fathom if I could with this setup... Free enhanced cold damage without spending the skill points on the piddly synergy! (Thumb your nose at blizzard while you orb things to death easily without wasting points in a non-essential skill to do so!) I would stay away from The Oculus at all costs (unless you are a rabid MFer with a craving for more magic find), it has +3 all sorc skills, 20% res all, 50% magic find, and a 25% chance to teleport you into extremely bad places. I would seriously prefer tal's orb over occy if the full set is available for use. Also of mention is the wiz spike, which has a great deal of mods to help you out ... 50% faster casting, 75% resist all, and +2 mana/hp per clvl. If you arent using the full tal set, this is your obvious choice for getting around and avoiding getting really low on mana with this build, while maximizing your effective resistances.
For gloves ... Frostburns are pretty much equal to Magefists, but while you are leveling up it cant hurt to have some extra +1 fire skills to use for backup ... the magefists also happen to have 20% fast cast on them. If you want more magic find instead (and have your mana and fast/cast taken care of already), then Chance Guards are pretty tough to beat at 25 - 40% mf.
For belts ... Nightsmoke is vastly under-rated ... 10% res all, 50% damage to mana, and easily upgraded to a mesh belt .... what more could you want? (Ok, I lied... Arachnid Mesh has 20% fast cast and +1 all skills, but that's expensive stuff we are talkin bout here, and Arach Mesh has no resists!) Tal's belt, of course, if you are wearing the full set ....
Amulet ... Tal's ammy is very nice for the full set, although Mara's has much to drool over. Your best bet would be a crafted caster ammy with +2 sorc skills, 20% fast cast, 20% resist all, and 35% mf .... (the odds of getting that are worse than someone finding 2 zod runes in the SAME GAME). Tal-rasha's set amulet can drop anywhere in act 4 NORMAL and up or act 3 normal from Mephisto himself (believe it or not ... I certainly don't, but that's what the numbers say... ) Mara's Kaleidescope is a high level unique ammy, most likely findable in hell difficulty only... if anything in nightmare could drop it, it would probably be limited to Baal. Another nice choice to have in amulets would be an Eye of Etlich ... useable at level 15, it gives +1 all skills. You can find these in normal act 2 and up, though I think I have seen Andariel drop one once... but ATMA says they cant drop there.
Good charms to keep around would be 3 - 5% res all small charms, 11 - 15% res all grand charms, and single-resist small charms of 10 or 11% to bolster specific resists that need it ... Also good to have around are + life small charms, and mana/life grand charms (you can find grand charms with +55 mana on them). But don't forget those nice lil magic find charms in all the fuss!
For an upgraded Nightsmoke .... it requires level 30, and 58 strength. An upgraded goldwrap requires level 37 and 77 strength to equip. The upgraded belt will allow you to have 16 potions in belt, rather than 12. This also more than doubles the belt's defense, but as a sorceress you can typically ignore defense considerations. whistling.gif Of all the normal gear I listed, the belts are the only ones I would seriously consider an upgrade on.
For exceptional to elite upgrade, the only item I would really consider worth of this for a sorceress would probably be the Skin of the Vipermagi. This pushes it's strength requirement up to 88, but is well worth the investment in most cases.
Upgrade recipes for all unique armors/helms/belts/boots/gloves/shields: Tal + Shael + Perfect Diamond + Normal Unique = Excep Unique Ko + Lem + Perfect Diamond + Excep Unique = Elite Unique
These change the BASE ITEM TYPE ONLY to the next higher type, without changing the item's modifiers. The upgraded item gets a new random defense value within the possible range of the new item base type, rather than the max defense. These recipes DO NOT work well with ethereal armors, and some items may indeed end up with LOWER DEFENSE after the upgrade.
Shop at Drognan in act 2 normal. Just check his inventory and leave town ... return and check his inventory again (repeat ad nauseum). You should be able to find a staff there with +2 or +3 fireball, with 2 sockets already in it (do NOT buy a magical staff). If at all possible, you should do this on a higher level character with plenty of cash laying around, as the staff may end up costing upwards of 100k gold if it has other skill mods on it as well. Socket the staff with Tir and Ral (in that order) for the Leaf runeword (+3 fire skills, level 19 required unless the staff you picked out has a higher level requirement already on it). Also of note: Finding a staff for the Leaf runeword with +3 Enchant on it may seriously come in handy, and also helps your buddies out of they are looking for one!
Running with life/resist charms so that you can splurge on mana is a nice plan ... note that full tal's set gives you a bonus 150 hp and 110% res all, before you add any sockets ... I like the full set for my Sorceress.
Nightmare Cows: can drop any rune up to Ist Nightmare Countess: can drop any rune up to Lem (I think ... I have personally only gotten her to drop a Ko.) Hell Countess: I have heard that she can drop up to Lo, (the highest I have ever seen from her was Ist.) Act 5 nightmare: I have seen a common monster in front of shenk's little area actually drop a Gul rune, so I think you can safely say Ist runes are possible throughout this act. Hell Cows: Can drop any rune... Yes, I've seen a Zod drop. :)
I have seen NORMAL High Council in Travincal drop Sol runes before, so that probably points to Shael runes being a possible drop from act 4 onwards ... have had Shenk, Pindle, and Eldritch all drop Shael runes before in normal.
The Happy Hunting Grounds
Hell Difficulty is obviously the place to be for the highest level gear to drop. A well set up level 80+ Orb/FB sorceress can expect to be able to run the Mausoleum, The Pit, The Countess, the Ancient Tunnels, Maggot Lair, Durance 3, River of Flame, Worldstone Keep, Throne of Destruction (and all 5 act bosses).
Why these particular areas? The answer is quite simple. Monsters in Hell difficulty have auto-immunities in many places, and finding good places to kill monsters that are NOT immune to both of your attacks is essential for your survival and optimum killing speed. For the highest treasure class and best items, you want Level 88 monsters to kill, and only bosses/minions can be lvl 88 or higher.
- The Mausoleum in Act 1, Burial Ground ... has NO natural fire or cold immunes, but only 3 - 5 bosses to kill. This area has lots of slow-moving undead, many lightning immunes. Base monster level 85.
- The Pit in Act 1, Tamoe Highlands ... has Fire, Lightning, and Cold immunes, 5 - 8 bosses to kill. This area has slow - fast monsters, many varied immunies. Be wary of ranged attackers, as they can be quite dangerous... never venture here without a merc. Base monster level 85.
- The Countess in Act 1, Black Marsh... The cellar levels have NO natural cold immunes, so you may feel free to level up here as you wish. Base monster levels range from 72 to 76, so dont expect the best of items from this area. It's only real mention is the Countess herself, who happens to be the best monster in the game for runes of up to Ist, even in single player games. She is ALWAYS cold and fire immune, so you will need to take out her cold immune minions with fireball (or something else, if you arent using the character advocated in the guide), then static her down, and have a drink while your merc finishes her off. Your mercinary is absolutely neccessary at the end, and a good idea on the way down anyways. You can expect between 10 - 25 boss packs in this area, but this is not your true target area for MFing.
- Ancient Tunnels in Act 2, Lost City ... Has no natural cold immunes, and very slow - fast monsters. The lightning mage undead can be hazardous, and never get into melee range of those Invaders. Merc comes in handy for tanking bad boss packs. You can expect between 3 - 6 boss packs in this area. Base monster level 85.
- The Maggot Lair in Act 2, Far Oasis ... Has no natural cold OR fire immunes, and mostly slow monsters. The first two floors are base monster level 84, the third floor is base monster level 85. You can expect between 3 and 9 boss packs on EACH floor. Coldworm is ALWAYS poison and cold immune in hell, but quite easy to dispatch, as she doesnt move anywhere. This is my favorite area to hunt, as teleport makes navigating these blind hallways quite easy, and there are few monsters that can stand up to me for more than 4 or 5 seconds.
- The Durance of Hate 3rd floor in Act 3 ... Is an excellent place to hunt, as the base monster level of this area is 85. Mephisto, I believe, is not capable of dropping EVERYTHING, but can drop quite a few of the highest level items, and there are the three boss High Council, plus up to 3 additional boss packs to play with down there. Ghoul Lords are cold immune, High Council are lightning immune, use EXTREME caution around Stygian Dolls.
- The River of Flame in Act 4 ... This entire area has a base monster level of 85, making this a very nice place to hunt as well. The Chaos Sanctuary is also included as base level 85. Hephasto can drop runes up to Zod, and is a decent source, but not nearly as good as the countess, since he is not set to drop a rune (or multiple runes) with each death. There are multiple immunes of all types hanging about both areas, with the exception of Magic and Phys immunes. You can expect something between 5 and 12 bosses for these areas.
- The Worldstone Keep in Act 5 ... All 3 floors of this area are base level 85, and the Throne Room itself is level 85. Baal is level 99, making him quite capable of dropping every unique/set in the game. This is the most dangerous area of the game, as dolls and gloams and knights can ALL appear in the Throne Room and in various places upstairs in the Keep. This is also the most rewarding area of the game, if you can consistantly run it safely. You can expect between 3 and 8 bosses on each floor of The Worldstone Keep, 4 - 6 bosses in The Throne Room, but the Minions of Destruction monsters that appear do not seem to drop as bosses ... I am not sure on this, but they seem to have a champion drop instead.... None of the Minions of Destruction waves are naturally cold immune, save for the cold undead mages of the second wave.
- Serious trouble can be expected with The Ancients, if you rush a lot in hell, as two of them love to focus on any ranged characters in the party while the third engages melee fighters. Always try to have help around or a good backup character to take down problem groups of monsters.
- Serious trouble may be expected from the Diablo Clone as well, as he just hits way too hard for your merc to be able to stand up more than a few seconds.
- Also, serious trouble can be expected during Ubertrist runs, as those crazy 5x magic immune balrogs come screaming at you, and the bosses are no pansies either, since even the lesser ubers top out over Diablo Clone for difficulty.
This guide has been compiled entirely of my own experiences and opinions. Good Luck, and Good Hunting.