Update: 8.26.13 - In light of the influx of new/returning/financially strapped Wizards, I decided to update my guide to reflect changes made since its previous update (3/14/13), and to include some crafting/gem tips. Much of the original theories still apply. However with the introduction of monster density changes, I wanted to include them. All updated changes are in bold. Anything deleted is..uh..gone.
As stated in my original post, there are so many variables when it comes to figuring out what is the best way to do anything in a video game as complex as Diablo 3. Heck, we as a community can’t agree on a perfect attack speed, let alone the correct rune to use on Frost Nova :) So if you find yourself straight up not agreeing with what I’ve written here, no problem. This was just the best I could come up with, haha.
A. Rules of the Run
B. The Run
C. The Skills of the Run
D. Archon or Critical Mass (CM/WW, SNS) – Who does it better?
E. Melkor’s Obsessive and Nitpicky Efficiency Yielders (M.O.N.E.Y) <-That’s Clever
F. Han Solo or Group Buy
H. Craft For "Free"
A. Rules Of The Run
1. Choose the highest MP level you can handle at a fast pace, without smashing through Elite/Champion packs as if they are a trash mob. You want to take advantage of as many tiers of Monster Power Gold Find as you can. It matters. If Elites take 5 seconds to kill on Monster Power 4, move to Monster Power 5. Higher end players will likely do higher Monster Power, and reap considerably larger rewards…so don’t under play your ability, but don’t OVER play your ability either. You are aiming for a minimal death count (0-3 per run MAX), at your maximum comfortable speed. Repair Bills cut your earnings per hour significantly, folks.
2. Get some Pick Up radius on your gear. 14 yards is a nice comfortable number. The more, the better, but don’t gimp your gear set up too harshly to get it. You’ll understand why in the next sections.
3. Choose the last Quest in the Act you are choosing to farm.
4. Empty your Inventory Stash. Completely. Leave only 1 stack of Health Potions on your person. If you need to, create another character(s) to unload your inventory. If you don’t have room on any of your other characters – I would hate to see what your bedroom looks like IRL. I also can contact the TV show, Hoarders, and perhaps have them do a Diablo 3 episode. A Wizard can dream…
5. PICK UP EVERY BLUE ITEM YOU SPOT. Yes, that’s right. It takes 5 seconds to use a Town Portal, 3 seconds to walk to a vendor (less if you’re teleporting), and less than 8 seconds to right click all the blue items you’ve picked up. Run to your inventory. Dump the UNIDENTIFIED Rare Items, Demonic Essences, Gems, and Tomes. Get back to your game. The average “sell time” with teleporting to town takes me about 20-25 seconds. It’s not as much of a hassle as you may have previously thought. Believe it or not, it’s the time you spend at your inventory that tends to take the longest. You will ID all that fun stuff in your inventory when you have tired yourself out silly from this wonderful run you are having.
6. Movement Speed. “‘Nuff Said” – Bernic Mac
B. The Run
Choose from any of the following areas, but be sure to save the Keep Depths/The Vault of the Assassin, Fields of Misery/Weeping Hollow until you have 5 Stacks of Nephalem Valor. At 5 stacks, you are going to reap the greatest rewards from a Gold Find/Magic Find perspective. For this purpose, your goal is to find 5 stacks as soon as possible. This is NOT an experience run...even if are most likely get a healthy amount of XP. This is for Gold farming, and as such, operates differently than your typical XP runs:
A. Defiled Crypts
B. Festering Woods
C. Fields of Misery
D. Weeping Hollow
A. Vault of the Assassin.
B. The Desolate Sands (Take the Ancient Path waypoint, and move from the southwest point on the map Left to Right, slightly up, Right to Left, repeat)
C. Zolton Khulle’s Archives
D. Black Canyon Mines
E. Road to Alcarnus
A. The Keep Depths levels 1, 2, and 3
B .Rakki’s Crossing (approached from Siegebreaker’s lair and moving backwards – Take Arreat Crater Level 1 Waypoint. Use Town Portal once you’ve reached The Fields)
C. Skycrown Battlements/Stonefort (Start in Skycrown by walking from town. This will allow you to naturally feed into Stonefort without stopping unnecessarily)
D. Arreat Crater 2 (because it typically has less dead ends. Run backs waste time)
E. Both Towers (Damned, and Cursed)
I am no longer convinced that Act 3 can compare to Act 1 and 2. I need to do some testing.
These sections are chosen for 1 of 2 reasons:
A. They have the highest mob/Elite Density or…
B. They tend to “flow” in a single direction (Running back over cleared territory is a huge waste of time) The fields in Act 3 didn’t make my list because I typically find myself either zigzagging far too much, or running a circle that leaves too much behind – even with its high mob density. Arreat Crater 1 is such a coin toss. You can run it into a dead end in 3 minutes or move through it too quickly to be beneficial, or get caught in huge runback scenarios.
C. The Skills of the Run:
This section covers what skills you can use to maximize your efficiency. None of these are mandatory…well…nothing in this whole guide is really mandatory, lol.
1) Storm Armor, Scramble. Increase your movement speed when you are hit (by pretty much anything, really) for 3 seconds. Since you are playing a monster power level that is well below what you can handle, the loss of protection from more popular armor spells such as Energy/Ice Armor is negligible. In Act 2, this skill shines much more because there is POISON EVERYWHERE.
2) Archon is by far the MOST efficient way to mow down bad guys in lower MP levels. Choose the rune that makes it easiest but I find that using the rune, Pure Power to be the most beneficial. Reason? In this run, you stop. Often. Picking up blues is an art, lol. It takes a considerable amount of practice before you don’t mix in white items, Rares you’re not interested in, Legendaries you’re not interested in (JK), etc. The Archon comes off timer more often than what happens in your typical XP/MF runs. Try to avoid going BACK into Archon when your inventory is getting full. Otherwise you end up standing at the Vendor, wasting the skill.
3) Critical Mass Wizards (meaning SnS and CMWW variants) should most certainly be using Teleport: Worm Hole. Nothing really covers more real estate in less time. Run backs, when they do occur, are just that much less annoying when you can click and teleport…into a wall, haha.
D. Archon or Critical Mass (CM/WW, SNS) – Who does it better?
Ok, so the answer here (and yes, I am heavily biased) is Critical Mass (CM/WW/SnS) Wizards. Here’s the reason. When a Critical Mass Wizard “stops clicking”, very often his damage spells still continue to do their work. A Frost Nova on a white mob is going to keep that baddie frozen, a built up “queue” of Explosive Blast, Chain Reaction is going to boom boom boom for a few seconds after clicking stops, tornadoes are going to keep on spinning…while you physically are picking up the items on the ground that you need. If you time this correctly, the mayhem subsides, your enemies are dead, and the floor is clean. It’s like an Arcane Janitor. Archon Wizards may fall out of Archon during the “mop up,” and if they’re not attacking their enemy actively, they tend to not be doing much (if any) damage. It’s a hefty trade off, just to use the laser beam. Just saying.
E. Melkor’s Obsessive and Nitpicky Efficiency Yielders (M.O.N.E.Y) <-That’s Clever:
1. For Act 3, start in Keeps Level 3 and work your way into Keeps Level 2. Keeps Level 3 is fairly predicatble...so find that entrance and move on. Don't back-track...because while sometimes you may get lucky and find the back track to be short..other times, one leg of Keeps 3 is a long and windy path..and you WANT to find the entrance to Keeps 3, not just port out. This allows you to run through K2 until you (inevitably) hit a dead end..at which point you enter K2 via the K1 wp and push through the unexplored remaining sections. This method is also better than my previous thoughts because you are more likely to enter K2 with more stacks. -- Tip from Silverfire(8/27/13) Of course, this method is assuming you are starting in the Keeps. If you are building your stacks in Stonefort/Skycrown, then you may enter the Keeps Level 2 first, then use K3 to find the other side.. It's up to you..Ultimately, you simply do not want to spend time wandering through empty, already dead enemy halls.
2. I honestly do not recommend picking up every yellow item you spot, but it DOES technically yield more gold at the end of the day. iLvl 62 and 63 items will almost always be worth more…but if you JUST grab those, you’re leaving a lot behind. I also wouldn’t expect you to memorize every item and its corresponding level (I have though, lol)...so choose your loot at your own discretion. And for those who really don’t have the inventory space, you can use the following tactics– but they are a bit more time consuming:
3. Act 1 - After quickly reviewing the possible path for Act 1 Gold Runs, I found myself astonished at the ease of access to the above mentioned "hot spots". You quite literally can take the town portal to almost every sport I mentioned with little travel afterwards. Remember..get your stacks before hitting those big, dense fields!
A) With Patch 1.0.7, we got a nice Quality of Life improvement to vendoring. We can now have the vendor selected (with his wares on the left side of your screen) and ID items at the same time. We can ALSO sell off ID’ed items WHILE our items are ID-ing. I know it only takes 1 second to Identify a Rare, but in that 1 second, I can sell off about 3 Blue Items. Hey, I’m just saying, it might work for you if you are as crazy as me.
B) You can melt items down for materials at the Blacksmith without ID-ing them. The problem is that every time you choose to salvage an item, you will be prompted with an “Are you sure?” window. THERE IS NOW AN OPTION TO AUTO SALVAGE RARES. HUGE TIME SAVER AS IT ELIMINATES THE "ARE YOU SURE" PORTION OF THIS SECTION Be careful not to salvage your Chantodo’s Will or you will instantly have the biggest negative net gold farming run in history.
3) Don’t turn around just because there’s a Blue item you missed. Some Blue items are worth very little and there’s plenty more where that Sheltering Ring came from :) (Pick Up Radius should eliminate almost all missed gold piles)
F. Han Solo or Group Buy:
This run can be done alone, or with friends, and there are major advantages to both.
Solo – Probably can get a higher MP done. Higher MP = Higher Gold Find.
Group – Death means zero runback. “Take my FLAG!!” . You can split up in those places where the map separates and then converges again moments later. No missed Elites or Treasure Goblins. There is no need to “sell together” as you typically do in other games. Selling is so fast here. Just go, and get back. If a Legendary drops while you’re gone and you tagged it or were close enough to it, you’ll have a nice bright Orange Star waiting for you. Just be sure to check your mini map upon returning. Also, being alone is boring.
Your results can totally vary, obviously. Personally, after perfecting my technique, I have yielded as much as 1,100,000 gold per hour. That’s 18,333 gold per minute, my friends. This was atypical, though. My usual yield is around 750,000 per hour. I hope you make millliiionnnssss!
H. Craft for "Free":
I put "free" in quotations because I couldn't think of a better word to describe the process hereafter denoted. From an explanatory point of view, what I am describing is a way for your crafting costs to "pay for themselves" when you utilize my above gold farming methodologies. There are NO truly FREE crafting methods, just to be clear:
1. Blue items almost always melt down into Exquisite Essences (*unless the item is level requirement reduction gear, for example). Rare items will almost always give you Iridescent Tears (*).
2. A) The Archon Gauntlets require Iridescent Tears.
B) The Razorspikes of XXX require Exquisite Essences.
C) The Crafted Amulets require a perfect square gem.
D) Archon Spaulders and Archon Armor pieces require no reagents.
3. All crafted pieces require Tomes of Secrets (except for the amulet craft) and Demonic Essences.
4. Melt your blue items if you are crafting bracers. Melt your rares if you are crafting gloves. Your net gold yielded from the run will MORE than cover your crafting costs. Be very careful when crafting amulets and chest pieces.. At 150,000 per chest piece, and 100,000 + perfect square gem + Brimstone..even a highly successful gold run can leave you in the negative. I'd try for bracers, shoulders, and gloves before I went for the other two - strictly from an economic perspective.
Remember to try and conclude every run with more gold than you started with. If that means you don't use every DE you farmed, so be it. Move up and forward, and your economic situation can improve.
This guide is not to be interpreted as my "solution" to "all your gold problems." It is simply meant to offer you a fresh perspective and a ray of hope beyond, "I'll never find anything good in D3."
Happy Farming :)
EDIT: 3/14/13 12:47PM EST - When running every section of Act 3, a totally emptied stash just barely made it to the end. If your stash fills completely with Rares, DO NOT resort to dumping UN-IDed Rares on the ground in town. There are two reasons for this:
A) An untimely disconnect...
B) The Phantom Effect: Hereby described as items disappearing from town after an extended period of time. Some folks swear this occurs, others say it does not.. Don't take the chance!
Thanks for reading. Request Sticky! DO IT.
EDIT: Updated Results/High Record.