*The Hardcore Tips/Advice Thread*

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***THIS THREAD HAS BEEN NECRO'd! I am working to bring it up to speed and update it to match the current patch! Do NOT flame me for out of date technical info in the meantime! Thanks!***

I have scoured the forums for as many tips and strategies that I could find, and compiled them here along with my own experiences. I want to stress that most of these tips are things I've picked up from the forums or other players and paraphrased. I've tried to break them down into categories for easier reference. Other people have made similar threads, and I'm not trying to detract from them, but mearly complile them into one easy to read post.

I hope that people will gain some insight into playing Hardcore, and learn something that will help keep them from losing too many characters. If you have a tip or piece of advice that you don't see here, PLEASE post it! Also, if you liked this thread and feel its worthy, please use the "Request Sticky" button on the right.

The Philosophy of Harcore Mode

"I dislike death; however, there are some things I dislike more than death. Therefore, there are times when I will not avoid danger. " ~ Mencius

The biggest difference a player is going to encounter when making the switch from Softcore to Hardcore is, of course, dealing with the fact that a single death FOR ANY REASON means they must start over, and can no longer play the character that just died.

Being mentally and emotionally prepared for unexpected HC deaths can be a difficult change from SC. Lag, disconnects, or server problems are completely out of your control, and 100% part of playing a Hardcore character. You must expect this to happen. Believe that this WILL happen. That way when it does, you don't break a keyboard.

When you inevitably lose a character, don't immediately jump back in and start over without pause. Stop and take a break(NOT your keyboard! ;D). Think about how you got killed. Learn from your mistakes and be more cautious next time around. Calm down and start your next toon with a stable mindset. If you play angry, you're more likely to be reckless and make another mistake and lose another toon.

Another way to mitigate the anger and frustration from losing a character is to play multiple characters. Do a few levels with one, then switch to another. That way if one dies, you can fall back to another without having to start over from scratch.

For many softcore players, dying is a tool. Corpse hopping, suicide charging bosses, etc. But in Hardcore mode these tactics are invalid. Some would say that HC mode requires more skill, but mostly it just requires a completely different approach to the game. Its no longer about simply progressing through the game, following the story, and killing everything you come across without thinking. HC is more about patient, cautious play, and ruthless calculating survival.

You might think this is cowardly, but being brave and attacking everything is for SC characters who can afford to be reckless. Being a ruthless , cautious, coward that uses every dirty trick and strat in the book to stay alive is HC style. Get this through your head and it will save you hours and characters.

HC mode is also more about the journey than the destination. Enjoying the challenge of learning from your mistakes and getting better as a player instead of just getting a better character is a subtle, but important, change of philosophy from softcore that will save you from getting too angry at losing characters.


Don't play in windowed mode, especially if you have dual monitors. Accidentally clicking outside the game window can cause severe video lag, putting your character in danger. Use the option to lock the cursor to the game winow! Disable the windows key on your keyboard if you haven't already.

If you're using a wireless mouse/keyboard, do yourself a favor and make certain they're charged. Losing a character because a battery runs out is just silly and frustrating.

In HC more than any other game mode you want the highest FPS, lowest ping, and cleanest running you can possibly get to avoid any kind of latency or video lag. Closing down as many unnecessary background programs as possible is preferred.

Don't play while streaming any other media or running torrents. Lag can potentially be bad enough already without background programs chowing down on your bandwidth. Consider turning down/off video, music, or sound effects as well in order to optimize your FPS and cut down on resource use.

It goes without saying that you should keep your computer clean with anti-virus, and all your HDs defragged. Update all your hardware drivers and windows manually. Turn off auto-updates of any kind. A badly timed auto-update or warning pop-up in the middle of a boss fight or champion pack can cost you.

Don't skip the Izual cutscene in Hell. Apparently there's a bug that will cause there to be TWO Izuals to fight if you do this. I don't know if it's a confirmed bug, but several people have reported it. Better to play it safe and just watch the cutscene.

Keep an eye on the Blue posts and patch notes! There's not always a patch to download before they change the game, and a critical skill that you've relied on could be changed drastically, causing you to die when you otherwise thought you'd be safe. Or an enemy that you thought you knew does something different.

Levels and Gearing

Over-level, over-gear, over-farm. This is probably one of the biggest and best advantages you can give yourself in HC. Remember, HC mode is not about progressing the story, its about staying alive. If you are not absolutely wiping the floor with everything in your path: stop, go back a chapter and farm some more. Using the AH is a good way to gear up if you're having bad luck with the drops, or if you have an excess of gold.

Repeat easy quests! Some may consider this power-leveling, but by repeating the quests to kill easy bosses, you can quickly stack up a lot of levels and items.

Defense over offense is the rule of thumb for HC. Stack resists, armor, dodge, block,and health. Use a shield instead of a two-handed or offhand item. It might take a bit longer to kill things(which can be bad on some bosses or champs), but as a general rule its best to give yourself as much buffer as possible to absorb and survive big hits that you didn't expect. If you're over-leveled and over-geared like you should be, this will be less of an issue, and enemies will die at a decent speed.

Just because you've beaten Diablo at the end of chapter 4 doesn't necessarily mean you should automatically go and jump into the next highest difficulty. The transition from Normal to Hell isn't so bad, but the difference from Hell to Inferno will break you if you're not extremely careful and prepared. Before taking it up a difficulty, farm until you can't stand it any more, then farm some more.

Gear out your companion as though it was part of your own character. They might not seem like much, but in hardcore mode, every little bit helps. I personally prefer the Templar for his healing and taunt abilities, but whatever you use, keep them geared to the max just like you would do for yourself.

Stash all your best items as soon as you're not using them. In HC you WILL die eventually, so having a good stockpile of gear to twink out your next toon is always a good idea. Similarly, if you run out of space, just make a HC mule toon that never leaves town for extra stash room, using its inventory.

NOTE: SC and HC stashes are seperate. You can not trade or transfer items between the two. So don't waste your time farming in SC for your HC toon(except gold trading, which is not part of the game. Use 3rd party websites at your own risk![NOT recommended])


Turn on elective mode. This can be found under Options -> Gameplay. It allows you to customize your skills, and double up on abilities from the same category if needed. This is a good way to use more than one defensive ability. (Orvain)

Don't be afraid to change your skill loadout before fighting a boss. A lot of times abilities that are good for farming out in the field aren't as appropriate for fighting single tough enemies such as bosses. Changing your setup before a boss fight might give you a much needed advantage. However, do NOT try to change your setup mid-combat. This is asking for death.

I also think it's worth mentioning in the skills section that while changing skills can make bosses easier, once you hit 60 and are doing runs for items/gold you generally want to avoid it when possible due to Nephalem Valor being reset. That said, staying alive is worth infinitely more than a boost to MF/GF - like everything in hardcore, use your best judgement and err on the side of caution.


Do not, I repeat, DO NOT be afraid to flee and restart the game against champions with difficult combinations of modifiers, especially in higher difficulties. If you're not sure if you can take a champion pack, or you're taking large chunks of your life, run away to a SAFE place to restart the game.

IMPORTANT!!!!! Once you enter an actual Boss encounter, you can NOT flee! Two men enter, one man leaves! So you damn well better be prepared. If you've over-leveled and over-geared, as you should be, this shouldn't pose much of a problem. Just be aware that if you halfass it, you're basically throwing your character on the ground and spitting on it.
Movement and positioning

Don't chase the loot bandit. It's designed with the sole purpose of getting you in over your head and killed. If you want more loot or gold, just go farm somewhere safer. On that topic: Don't be greedy! It bears repeating. I don't care if half the room is filled with rares: secure the area FIRST, then loot, then go back to town before identifying/comparing.

NEVER go afk or check gear or skills out in the field. If you need to do something like that, return to town. If you need to go AFK, leave the game entirely, even if you think town is safe(Chapter 1 town is NOT safe!). Logging back in only takes a few seconds, while losing a character could cost you HOURS. Repeating a level is just more exp and loot. Getting killed by an enemy you missed while taking a bio break or making a sammich is a terrible shame that could easily have been avoided.

When you go to play, don't start the game with the resume button. This will place you at the last checkpoint that you passed, potentially dropping you in the middle of an area packed with enemies, and any escape routs to other zones might also be swarmed. The same situation can occure when taking waypoints to jump ahead in the chapter. This is an uncontrolled situation you want to avoid by starting at chapter beginnings, or in town. The extra farming while you work back to where you were won't hurt you.(Thadderack)

Many areas of terrain such as low walls or grates can be fired through and/or bypassed by movement abilities such as leap, teleport, or vault. Learning what parts of terrain you can use these abilities on can give you a chance to hit enemies without retaliation, or provide a valuable escape route. Be careful that you don't wait until you're in danger to find out if your leap/teleport/vault works or not.

Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try the cheeze where you jump in and out of town or a waypoint in order to take down a champion pack while healing in between. If you aren't strong enough to beat them outright, flee, start a new game, and level/gear up until you can. Doing otherwise is asking for death, especially if your connection or framerate is bad. HOWEVER! Using stairs, caves, waypoints, or exits BACK to town, or any other level transition is a good way to escape from a dangerous situation. Securing these exits and knowing where they are on the map is probably a good idea as well, as jumping through an unsecured/unknown exit might run you into another pack of enemies and get you killed.

Activating your defensive cooldowns before entering a new area or zone transition might give you a slight edge if there are enemies waiting on the other side. If you do this and there isn't a threat, wait for your CDs to reset before continuing.

Try not to back your character into a corner, or fight in tight spaces. Several champion modifiers become far more dangerous when you don't have room to dodge. Kiting dangerous foes into an open area is often preferable, and having an escape rout is invaluable.

Don't underestimate the value of movement speed on items. Often times just getting out of the way will save you more damage than armor or resists. And sometimes it'll give you enough speed to escape back to a safe exit before death.

Don't stand in the fire. This seems like a no-brainer, but there are several traps, grates, or other environmental effects that can REALLY hurt if you just sit there. Usually this happens when you're doing what I told you not to: checking your gear, or comparing loot, or otherwise being AFK out in the field instead of just grabbing it all quickly and going back to town to do it. This also applies to enemies with ground effects, such as mortar. Don't just sit there taking the damage.

Watch your companion closely! Sometimes they will go off an attack enemies you aren't aware of, but they can also run off and aggro stuff that you're not ready for.


Using a healing potion should be something that you're always ready to do, but should try to save as a last line of healing. Because of the long cooldown on healing potions, you need to use them very wisely. I suggest saving them for when other defensive cooldowns are not available. The game will not automatically switch to a different quality potion when you run out. So make sure you manually set yourself to use your most powerful potions, and make sure you always have enough in your inventory

If at any point you are out of combat and NOT at full Health, stop and wait until you are, or pop a potion or ability to top yourself off. If you use a pot or ability, stop and wait until its ready again before continuing on.

The same goes for fights against champion packs. If you've just finished a champ pack, stop and wait until all your cooldowns are ready again, in case there's another champ pack around the next corner. Remember, staying in control of the situation is paramount.
Group/Co-Op Play

Bringing friends to HC is a mixed bag. If they're really good players and you can coordinate and communicate with them well, it's going to make the game a bit easier. But if you join random public games, you're gambling. They could be awesome, or they could be jerks.

If you're getting along well with a group, be aware that they can't see your loot, and you can't see theirs. Sometimes a player will need to stop and pick up loot. Wait for them, and don't run off on your own. If they're AFK, its up to you to decide if you want to stay and defend them, but don't feel guilty if you have to leave them. It wasn't YOUR choice to go afk, and they should have returned to town before going AFK anyway. On the other hand, friendly players can defend you if you get disconnected! This is not to be underestimated!

Be wary of grouping with people you don't know. They might seem like good people, but suck at Diablo 3. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say. Bad players can pull large groups of enemies to you then flee or die, leaving you to handle the mess. Or they could just be griefing, trap setting scumbags. Or they might be really awesome pro's that teach you new tricks! Whichever they are, people you don't know and trust are an unknown factor. Its up to you to take the risk of public games or not. (edited to be less opinionated)
05/29/2012 03:43 PMPosted by TheBigBB
If you play multiplayer, make sure you're always with the group. If you're in a party where people split up and people are going to town randomly, just leave the game. Everyone needs to be working together in hardcore. If a huge pack of champs and/or rare monsters jumps out at you in a 4 player game when your teammates are wandering all over the place, chaos is going to break loose, and you may even end up facing them alone. This will almost always result in death.

NEVER accept rushes from people you don't know! Its probably a scam to get you killed. Anyway, why are you rushing in HC anyway? Rushing is bad. It drops you into a situation that is out of your control, and will probably cost you a character even if it isn't a griefing. Even if you survive, you'll then be playing at a much higher level that you might not be mentally prepared for. HC isn't about going fast, it's about staying alive. Take it slow and stay in control.

General Strategy

Take breaks often. If you're playing tired or distracted there's a far greater chance you'll make a deadly mistake. Stop after every chapter or checkpoint to get up and stretch. You should be doing this anyway, but the benefits of keeping your mind sharp in HC can not be stressed enough.

Playing through the higher difficulties as a SC toon in order to get a good feel for what to expect is not a bad idea. Its definitely not required, but first-hand knowledge of what you're going to face in Nightmare and Inferno is an invaluable asset. Jumping into higher difficulties as HC might be challenging, but going into an unknown situation as HC is also a good way to lose a character.

For farming purposes, you can use stages of previous quests with NPCs beyond your hireling that follow you to provide extra targets for the enemies to attack.

NOTE: There are MANY other good tips further down in the thread which I did not have room to edit into the original post! Please continue reading, as there is still much more to learn!

"Remember the dead, but FIGHT for the living!" - Hellgate London

Turn on Elective Mode for skills, you need more than one defensive ability.
Beware the Resume button.

Something I haven't had to do yet but is worthwhile- Caves and waypoints are the only cheap escape options you get when being chased by something that's too strong for you. Whenever you come to a cave entrance, go inside and clear anything that's an immediate threat, just in case you need it as an emergency escape later.
This is sound advice to follow. Good post.

NEVER play with people you don't know. They might be seems like good people, but suck at Diablo 3. They can pull large groups of enemies to you then flee or die, leaving you to handle their mess. Or they could just be griefing, trap setting scumbags. Either way, people you don't know and trust are an unknown factor out of your control. In HC mode when you're not in control of the situation, chances are you can lose a character.

This is the only one that I don't agree with. The best part of my decade of playing HC has been the communities and friends I've had the pleasure to run with. If you never play with people you don't know then you'll never know more people. Stupid, petty people who get some kind of enjoyment from killing other players will always be around (though the game is still new - most of them will move on eventually) and have to be taken in stride like a lag death.

NEVER play with people you don't know. They might be seems like good people, but suck at Diablo 3. They can pull large groups of enemies to you then flee or die, leaving you to handle their mess. Or they could just be griefing, trap setting scumbags. Either way, people you don't know and trust are an unknown factor out of your control. In HC mode when you're not in control of the situation, chances are you can lose a character.

This is the only one that I don't agree with. The best part of my decade of playing HC has been the communities and friends I've had the pleasure to run with. If you never play with people you don't know then you'll never know more people. Stupid, petty people who get some kind of enjoyment from killing other players will always be around (though the game is still new - most of them will move on eventually) and have to be taken in stride like a lag death.

That's why its simply tips and advice. Its your character, and you can take whatever risks you want. The point of this particular tip is simply to play it safe. When it doubt in HC, play it safe. :)
The point of that tip is not play it safe - the point of that tip is don't play public games. And that is a terrible tip for new people to read.
05/28/2012 01:42 PMPosted by Tenlaar
The point of that tip is not play it safe - the point of that tip is don't play public games. And that is a terrible tip for new people to read.

I'm sorry that you disagree. But it's almost certainly a good idea for a new HC player to wrap his head around everything else first before jumping in public games, or games with people they don't know.

But like I said, its your toon. You can play however you like. These are only tips and advice. You can follow or disregard them as you choose.
05/28/2012 01:36 PMPosted by Tenlaar
Stupid, petty people who get some kind of enjoyment from killing other players will always be around (though the game is still new - most of them will move on eventually) and have to be taken in stride like a lag death.

That's just it, though. They do NOT have to be taken in stride. Lag and disconnects are unavoidable, and almost completely out of the player's control. Playing with idiots and malicious people is something that can be avoided.

This is the only one that I don't agree with. The best part of my decade of playing HC has been the communities and friends I've had the pleasure to run with. If you never play with people you don't know then you'll never know more people.

I'd like to also point out that it's my belief that the primary point of hardcore play(and this guide) is to avoid getting your hardcore character killed, not to meet new people. To that point, this guide will always err on the side of caution, resulting in a somewhat harsh outlook when it comes to playing with other people.

Also, there are other ways to find out what kind of player a person is besides just jumping into a random game. These forums are an excellent source of info and setting up groups.
05/28/2012 01:20 PMPosted by Sircowdog
What I'm hoping to get with this thread is everyone who plays HC to post some of their tips and/or strategy, then compile it into the first couple posts for a sticky so that people who are new or returning to Hardcore play can get a good idea of the differences and difficulties that they will encounter while being mortal.

You said yourself that you want this thread to be a communal effort, and people reading it will see it as that. You then follow that by putting down a whole bunch of your own personal thoughts without anybody else contributing or reinforcing your belief in those topics. People will read this thread and see "the community" saying NEVER PLAY WITH PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW!

That is the problem - if you want to put a bunch of your own thoughts down, make it clear that is what they are. Don't make it seem as if the HC community as a whole doesn't want to play with strangers because I assure you that is not the case.
People that are coming to this thread only to thrash a very good post for Hardcore players either dont play hardcore or are just trolling along bored at work looking for a post to pick apart.

This is a very good thread and everything stated is good, sound advice for those that want to play a hardcore toon thru to Inferno. Thanks for the good read!

Edit: about playing with other players...I think people are getting the advice by the OP all wrong. Nothing bad about two or three people starting from scratch with lv 1's and having a good time developing a good relationship. What I see the OP saying is dont open up a public game if you are in Hell mode and some guy comes in and pulls the whole dungeon. There is nothing cool about that and it could happen if you dont listen to the advice the OP gave. There is a difference in what I said and you know this...troll elsewhere please if you have no positive input on advice for Hardcore players...thanks
Being *aware* of the danger of multiplayer is the important part. It works both ways though, you could get jerks that try to get you killed. Or you could get someone that sees you stop moving, and saves you from certain lag death by killing any nearby threats.
Great guide, just one very minor thing that bothers me:

skill loadout

This is a CoD term, any chance you can change it? xD
Slight changes to the format of the original posts to clarify some things and make it easier to read. Thanks for the responses!
Yo great guide i love it and the argument about the random party's i go about that on both sides if you want to meet new people its a great way but being cautious is the key watch them play off the bat its not worth some random player messing up your hours of game play. :)
Just one from experience. any time you start to feel like an unstoppable engine of destruction, you're about to commit suicide. Take a break.
05/28/2012 01:21 PMPosted by Sircowdog
Over-level, over-gear, over-farm. This is probably one of the biggest and best advantages you can give yourself in HC.

Speaking of over-levelling.. is there a good list of what level range enemies you will encounter in each quest?

Are the monster levels accessed through the zones list at http://d3db.com/zone accurate, does anyone know?
I'm working on a HC guide myself. Here's some tips I've picked up.

- Explore areas from the bottom up. You can see MUCH farther exploring upwards than downwards due to the camera angle.

- Use audio cues. I use headphones to listen ahead for monster noises, and it's much easier to keep track of where monsters are in a fight, even more so in this game where the camera is so zoomed in.

- Keep your cursor close to your character when moving/exploring. If you don't, you'll have to make a second click to backtrack, and you'll aggro monster packs a lot more. Believe me, this is a good habit to get into. Try it out and see for yourself.

- Save shrines. Don't bother with skipping XP or Fortune shrines, but if you see a champion pack up ahead, you'll be glad you can backtrack to the last Protection or Frenzied shrine for the buff. Nine out of ten times there are better used on Champs and Rares rather than trash mobs and general exploration/looting.

- Bind your "oh sh**" button to 1. I keep Diamond Skin on 1 and Teleport on W. You DO NOT want to keep these life-saving skills on 4 or 5, these keys are far from your fingers and EASILY confused. I've mixed up 4 and 5 many, many times.

- Use precision clicks in fights. Don't drag yourself to the health globe, click on it instead, freeing up your mouse to aim at the next target. Another good habit to make, and once you do, you'll automatically do this and be a better player because of it.

- Don't be rushed by temp buffs. Fortune buff running out? Let it run out. Much better than barreling into the next room trying to squeeze for that last MF bonus and getting yourself killed. Killed characters have no MF.

- Save the environment traps. Much like shrines, make a mental note of where chandeliers and such are, instead of mindlessly pulling them whenever you walk by. Save them for tough enemies.

- Use your cooldowns every fight. It sounds counter-intuitive, and there's definitely good judgement involved here, but saving ALL your cooldowns out of habit is a waste of those skill slots and makes fights unnecessarily harder. I'm not talking long CD spells like Archon, I'm talking skills like Frost Nova, which ALWAYS recharge before the next pack of monsters. The sooner you use them, the sooner they'll be back, and as long as you don't blow them all at once and cycle them properly, you'll be a safer player. Don't let 4 CD skills just sit there while you Primary/Secondary attack your way through a zone.

- Save health globes if you're at full health. You'll thank yourself while kiting that champion pack backwards through the entire dungeon.

- Practice your spells. If you take Teleport for safety and never practice using it, you are going to get yourself killed with it when you're in freak-out mode. Teleport especially requires practice, it can get you killed VERY easily if you're not comfortable with the mechanics.

I have more but this post is long enough as it is. HC mode is not about being 100% safe. That's impossible. It's about calculating your risks. As long as you calculate ALL your risks, know what risks you take, when and why, you'll be a good HC player. It's the risks you don't calculate that get you killed most of the time. So don't go on autopilot, don't follow your impulse, weigh your decisions, and before doing something dangerous, take 10 seconds to think about just how far you've come, caution will naturally result.

And have fun! HC mode is a blast.

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