Diablo® III

Legendary "Drop Rates" Explained (TLDR Warning)

Cliffs at bottom-

Hey everyone,
Let me first say like everyone else, I started out loving this expansion. “They fixed Diablo” I said to all my friends. We all rushed out and bought the game together and loved the first week of it… and then things started to change.

I now have over 300 hours in the expansion (no life, I am aware) and I’ve unfortunately noticed some pretty sad trends that I decided to invest some time and effort into exploring and understanding. I also wanted to clear up most of the misconeceptions about the drop system currently employed in this game.

A little about me before I delve into the details. I am an IT networking administrator who also happened to play poker professionally online for 6 years and for 3 of those I also played live poker as part of my routine. During this time I accumulated over 8 million total hands of poker played all while maintaining a positive win rate. How does this pertain to a game like Diablo you ask? RNG.. Variance…..return on investment etc all sort of fit into this world. We all know that RNG is the current buzzword floating around these forums and many others… but how much of Diablo’s loot system is actually RNG?
What I am going to attempt to explain over the next few paragraphs is what and how the current drop system works and what you can do to take advantage of it, or just for your own good to better understand how it works and why it works that way.
My theory (which I am confident in being correct) that very little about when a drop occurs is based on “RNG”and the only aspect of RNG is what drops, not when. I believe that drops are completely time controlled to maintain an even flow of legendaries into the game world. What does this mean for you and why should you be upset? It means that no matter how fast, or efficient you are at killing you will on average get the exact same number of legendaries as Johnny casual that kills at 1/10th the rate that you do. How did I come to this conclusion? 16 hours of comparison (small sample size) with a good friend of mines girlfriend who is the very definition of casual. I started to suspect such a system was in place the stronger my character became and a plotting of the last few days of legs in my clans news. My DH is currently top 250 on Dprogress for elite DPS. I can absolutely face roll T1 and T2 so I figured this would be a good testing ground to compare with her. My friends GF was up for the help so we both started running T1’s solo. Her crusader is a 200k DPS tank and she has 0 idea about efficiency or movement speed. She was clearing around 1 T1 / hour(insanely slow on a crusader with no points into movement) compared to my 5-6. Over the course of 16 hours we both averaged 1.5 leg / hr. This was done over 4 sessions of roughly 4 hours of play. This system appears to be in place to balance the no lifers with the casuals as far as gear progression goes.

This is why chest farming and purple farming was so popular before the nerf. They are not on the timer controlled system of drops and had an actual drop %. Using a system like this, the more times you roll the dice the more times you’ll hit big… and that is just what people were doing and were able to bypass the intended drop rate and achieve some really high numbers of 10-20 / hr. And as a result it was more rewarding than actually playing the game (which is what Blizzard doesn’t want so it was consequently nerfed) The more times you killed manglemaw, and the more times you opened a chance the more legs you would get simply for the fact you were spinning the slot machine more times. This chance also increased per level of difficulty which is why it was so much better on T6 compared to T1.
What system are we left with now? The timer system I referred to before. My theory on how it works is this, Each difficulty has an average leg / hour that it attempts to maintain over the long term. Everytime a legendary drop occurs for you it resets to an amount somewhere between 5 seconds and 140 minutes with a higher chance to reset somewhere in the middle, and a lower chance to reset to the extremes (RNG) An example would be something like this:
Normal – Master = 1.25 L / Hour over 100 hours would = 125 Legs
T1 = 1.5 L / Hour over 100 hours would = 150 Legs
T2 = 1.65 L / Hour over 100 hours would = 165 Legs Etc
With it probably capping around 2.25 L / Hour for Torment 6 which is why you’ve seemingly seen Legendarys rain from the sky for those able to stay alive in T6.
“But Thacker… I’ve gotten 3 legs back to back and blah blah blah”
This is variance, plain and simple. Short term variance built into a system designed to average out over a certain time. This also explains why you can hit 2 packs of goblins in a rift… and not see a single leg drop. If the timer doesn’t permit it, you could kill 500 goblins and not get a drop. Lengendary drops simply aren’t based off a % drop.
But this also brings me to my next point… the “Rested XP Legendaries”
Ask anyone who doesn’t play for 1-2 days… even more. Does their luck suddenly seem better for the first few hours after logging back on? From everyone I’ve talked to… yes it does. Why does this seem to be? The same way that WoW has a rested XP catchup system, so does this game. This also explains why after the “hotfix” everyone was noticing greatly increased drop rates… I believe we were given max “rested” XP as a bonus on the hotfix. I know that for the first night after logging in I got 5-6 legs very quickly and then over the next few days it dwindled down to my current rate. My friend who didn’t log in for 3 days after the hotfix? Also noticed greatly increased drop rates for the first few hours which has now also fizzled to around the 1.5 / hour mark. This also helps explain why a person joining your group and seemingly “taking your Leg drops” might be receiving more than you for that time period. He might have just logged on which would explain him just joining your farm group, and you might be seeing this rested leg system showing off.
Next point will be legendary tiers, and this is the one that bothers me the most. It’s pretty obvious by now that certain items are simply much more common than others. Blackthornes set… certain bracers, gloves and belts…. Along with every other item category has tiers that it can drop. So while the actual droprate is completely controlled by a timer, what you get is most definietely RNG and it’s absolutely worthless for a singleplayer game without economy and in its current implementation, it’s completely out of balance What appears to happen is this:
X amount of time passes and you are now eligible for a leg drop:
Ding – Leg Drop
System Rolls
Chance for Item to = Normal Legendary / Non Class Specific Set (Blackthornes) 98%
Chance for Item to = Class Set 2%

Now if Normal Legendary is selected, it then rolls based on a tier system
Tier 1 (Saffron wrap, broken promises, gungdo gear) = 50%
Tier 2 (puzzle ring, lower class weapons, certain chests / boots etc)= 25%
Tier 3 (Mid tier weapons like windforce etc, firewalkers and better amulets) = 12.5 %
Tier 4 (Higher end gear such as cindercoat, andariels etc) = 6%
Unobtainables (Ice Climbers, Witching Hour, Calamity, Kridershot) = 0.0000000001 %

This system I have a personal beef with, because I’ve looked for a Kridershot over 300 hours / 300 paragon levels and gambled over 25k shards for one. There’s simply no reason I should be locked out from having an item soley by this system. In D2 and D3 I could trade for the item I wanted with someone of = value. The only way to fix this is to make all of the items have the exact same drop potential.

This system simply does not work in a game where trading is not allowed. People WILL get geared, but not everyone will be able to have the gear they want to play with… which is what a diablo game is about. We are ENTITLED to enjoy the game with everything the game has to offer, not be locked behind what the game decides to drop us. Without trading, and without a way to specifically target items you have lost one of the main reasons why the Diablo franchise is so enjoyable. I believe they are completely aware of these problems, which is why Kadala and the rested XP legendary timer exist, to assist those that can’t play all the time have the gear they want.

Is this system exploitable in anyway? Only one… and that is Kadala. Kadala appears to work completely off a % drop rate, but she still holds true to the drop % of the tiers. You might have a 1% chance to roll an item everytime you gamble a slot from Kadala, but you’ll still be fighting against the tier system if you want a certain piece of gear. For every kridershot you see, you’ll see 200 windforces, ravens, and cluckeyes. If you want to really exploit this and get many more legs / hour, simply try the rift it forward community that’s going on right now. Running with that crew I am able to get my 1.5 / 2 legs from rifts, and another 4-5 / hour from leeching rift shards.
Now Blizzard… I totally understand WHY this system is in place. It’s there so the sword and board barb slow farming T5 is able to get the same rewards as the no lifer blowing through T5 and 6 four times as fast. Blizzard seems to feel that if you are able to survive and complete a T5 rift, you should be rewarded just as well as the person that breezes through it. It’s the no man left behind philosophy of game design. Promote build diversity and gear diversity over speed and efficiency. The problem with the community is this… we want to kill as fast as possible and be as efficient as possible… but with this team managing diablo we simply won’t ever get rewarded for that style of play.

I hope this has been informative to some, and I hope with more pressure on the developers and feedback on forums like this, we are able to get the game moving back in the right direction. I had so much hope after RoS. I will continue to play as I do enjoy the game.. I just don’t look forward to how long its going to take me to get this Kridershot (if I ever do)

-TLDR:
-No matter how fast you kill, how efficient you are Johnny casual at 1/10th your rate will average the same legs as you, and even has a chance at better luck and getting better items
i read...and then i went and put on my tin foil hat
Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, Bizi.
I have noticed this too. I also notice that the moment I get one good set item (not Blackthorns), I can say goodbye to anything decent for a few days. Happened sooo many times. All my IK set, the extras I have in my stash and the other two barb sets I am trying to finish.

Now what I do is once I see that set piece, I log off and go do something else because otherwise I am getting trolled by Blizz's BS "RNG"

Also, WTF is up with all the 2H weps? Doesn't Blizz know we hate those?
Edited by chadzors#1667 on 4/18/2014 9:57 PM PDT
I agree with the "rested XP legendaries" theory. All my set items and good weapons I have obtained after more than a day of not playing and have ocurred in the first half an hour of play time.

You get the item, get excited, keep playing for 3 hours and you get absolutely nothing more.

Such bs.
yes, please bump this people.

I've noticed this too. I didn't put the math behind it, but when I had crappier gear and running T1-T2 rifts in 20-30min, I was getting just the same amount of legs as I do now running T5 and T6 in 20-30min. This is all so disheartening, and I really don't won't this to be true but it really seems like it is.

They are bringing the whole modern warfare type style of game play to this genre: they want to eliminate as much competition as possible so that more people feel welcome, gimping vet players so they are on par with 10yr old kids playing a video game for their first time... More people = more money. Its such a shame. They should leave arpgs alone with this junk and leave it in mmorgs. At the very least, keep it away from the pc versions of arpgs and shooters and let the console gamers have fun with it.

If you can't hang, you can't hang. If someone can clear T1 in 50 min and get 3 legs, then someone who can clear it in 5 min should get 3 legs.
Edited by AXELBRAIN#1891 on 4/18/2014 10:23 PM PDT
04/18/2014 09:56 PMPosted by chadzors
I have noticed this too. I also notice that the moment I get one good set item (not Blackthorns), I can say goodbye to anything decent for a few days. Happened sooo many times. All my IK set, the extras I have in my stash and the other two barb sets I am trying to finish.

Now what I do is once I see that set piece, I log off and go do something else because otherwise I am getting trolled by Blizz's BS "RNG"

Also, WTF is up with all the 2H weps? Doesn't Blizz know we hate those?


I got helltooth armor, jade shoulders, jade helm, mams cleaver in one day. The day before that I got Trifecta ToT, Fire Damage Trifecta neck, and some other sick items.

Your hypothesis, it sucks.
As a follow up, the more I think about what I posted the more it makes sense. 75% of their userbase is "casual"... has no interest in these forums... speed running or anything else... OF COURSE they have this system in place to balance the drops no matter your kill rate. It just makes sense from a business perspective... it just ruins any sort of competitive nature this game could possibly have and it really kills your ability to feel rewarded for extra effort.
04/18/2014 10:08 PMPosted by Thacker
As a follow up, the more I think about what I posted the more it makes sense. 75% of their userbase is "casual"... has no interest in these forums... speed running or anything else... OF COURSE they have this system in place to balance the drops no matter your kill rate. It just makes sense from a business perspective... it just ruins any sort of competitive nature this game could possibly have and it really kills your ability to feel rewarded for extra effort.


...the real reason why they didn't want damage meters when it was pay 2 play.
A couple of things -

Firstly, I sincerely doubt that Blizzard staggers the drop rate per character - but, if they do, your evidence isn't nearly sufficient to prove it. There's too much variance, even for the amount of time you spent. We all have hot streaks and cold streaks, and it's very likely (even probable) that you ran into a cold streak while your friend's GF was on a hot streak. They also lack motivation. Your claim that they'd have done this to control the amount of loot entering the game world doesn't hold water. They already apply controls to make sure certain high-end pieces of loot are less common than others, which they've admitted to - I fail to see why this system wouldn't be sufficient.

Secondly, such a system (if it existed) would surely have been programmed to affect Purple mobs and chests as well. I suspect Blizzard wouldn't intentionally design a timed-loot system and then magically exclude large sources of loot.

Thirdly, a "rested legendary XP" system that others have proposed is possible, but highly doubtful. Why on earth would Blizzard implement such a system, and then not disclose it? The argument for such a system obviously centers around catering to those who don't play as much - what would Blizzard stand to gain from keeping it a secret?

TL;DR - It's a huge reach. You're extrapolating from a very small sample size (even if you kept track of all 300 hours you played), and the justifications you perceive Blizzard as having are weak. Give me a spreadsheet comparing you and a dozen friends who kill at intentionally different paces, over the course of, say, 500 hours (roughly 6 months of playtime at 20 hours a week), with these results? Then I would start to come around. Until then, happy gaming.
You're pretty much in the exact same situation as I am; hundreds of hours into RoS, yet to see a single Kridershot after ~1000 legendaries looted.

I don't disagree with the socialism loot-theory in a world where every player is a winner, at least to a certain extent. Efficiency has an impact on drop rates for sure, but someone who farms at 10% of my speed gets a lot more than 10% of my drops.

I hit rank 30 EU/DH and that most certainly wasn't thanks to rifts, ~100 hours of chest runs and ~600 Human Cartilage. Yet to see one single upgrade in two weeks since the nerfs.

04/18/2014 10:15 PMPosted by Vhailor

Thirdly, a "rested legendary XP" system that others have proposed is possible, but highly doubtful. Why on earth would Blizzard implement such a system, and then not disclose it? The argument for such a system obviously centers around catering to those who don't play as much - what would Blizzard stand to gain from keeping it a secret?


Very simple, the wider the gear-gap between a hardcore and a casual player, the less 'hope' the casual player has of ever catching up and not being left behind, even in a single player game.

So this is a great strategy to keep casual players happy by giving them some free loot here and there, which would of course be extremely unfair to those who play more and would never allow Blizzard to publicly acknowledge this as it clearly provides an unfair advantage to a certain group of players.

Not saying it's actually the case, but from a pure marketing standpoint, it's an excellent strategy.
Edited by Sapphire#2437 on 4/18/2014 10:23 PM PDT
That... actually makes lot of sense.
It's quite easy to test Vhailor.

Play your highest DPS character and run rifts for 20 hours.

Play your lowest DPS highest toughness character and run rifts for 20 hours.

Compare the legs / hour.....you're not going to find much variance in the numbers what so ever.

My point is this.

Killing 10x as fast DOES NOT = 10x more legs...which points to other factors other than "RNG" effecting the loot drops. The easiest to pin the blame on? A time based system.
Good post, wonder if Blizzard will answer
04/18/2014 10:20 PMPosted by EarlyD3Buyer
Good post, wonder if Blizzard will answer

Not a chance; he didn't ask if anyone likes cats...
04/18/2014 10:22 PMPosted by OldPro
04/18/2014 10:20 PMPosted by EarlyD3Buyer
Good post, wonder if Blizzard will answer

Not a chance; he didn't ask if anyone likes cats...


HAHAHAHA
04/18/2014 09:10 PMPosted by Bizi
i read...and then i went and put on my tin foil hat


ur pretty rude and dumb
I have wondered this, and it is time for my anecdotal evidence...

So, I was playing two days straight for about 10+ hours in the day. At first I found like 11 legs in the first 10 rifts (including 3 gambled helmets and 1 legendary plan) I played, solo. Then I hit sort of a dry spell, I was finding one to two on average in 5-10 rifts. Sometimes I found two in a rift, and sometimes I found none for 5 rifts in a row. Pretty much what I would call normal mode.

Then my friends come on late at night. I hit another dry spell. They are now getting the same luck I had at the beginning of the day. Getting multiple legs per rift, almost every rift. For about 7 rifts in a row people on Skype with me were going crazy about all the legs they have found in the last hour. Then it died out, and we got bored and called it a night.

I feel this game works similar to TF2. You find x number of items in your first few games when you start playing (resets every week) and then after that you will be lucky to find one per day.

_____________________________________________________

I mean is it really hard to speculate on this? We already know there is a "safety net" and "smart loot" system. It could just as easily be working against more dedicated players as it is benefiting casual players, this way to keep the most people interested and still playing. Rewarding casuals on a normal basis and then keeping the carrot dangling in front of the dedicated players just enough to keep them from quitting.
Edited by commiedic#1461 on 4/18/2014 10:32 PM PDT
This is all conjecture though, and I don't think it's really true. No offense. but I was getting so many legs the past two days, averaging 1-4 a rift. and many of them were the elusive ones like ice climbers. RNG is indeed at work with drops.
Probably one of the best posts I have ever seen explain something in a game. Every point you made makes 100% sense. Give this man a Medal.
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