Before discussing runewords, lets have a small discussion about sockets in gear and some of the level requirements for higher socket items. First order of business is that Normal difficulty has a maximum of 3 sockets in any piece of gear regardless of whether the maximum sockets for said piece is higher. This limit increases to 4 for Nightmare. This is to say that it is impossible to find any weapons with 5 or 6 sockets in Nightmare and below through monster drops. Socketing using Larzuk results are based on item level. For example, an ilvl Crystal Sword between 1 and 25 will have a maximum output of 3 sockets, for ilvls 26 to 40 the maximum sockets will be 4, and for ilvls 41 or higher a maximum of 6. For normal, this means all white crystal swords found in act 4 or 5, with the exception of Worldstone Keep lvl 3 and Throne of Destruction, will result in 4 sockets from Larzuk (as a side note, it would be nice to know the ilvl of an item without the use of mods and should be included in the tool tips as a quality of life change).
The cube recipe will always roll for the maximum of 6 sockets so a crystal sword will have a 1/6 chance of rolling 4 sockets. Items that have a maximum socket cap of less than 6 will receive any rolls above the maximum cap as a count towards maximum. For example, if an armor has a max of 4 sockets, using a cube will give it 50% chance of rolling 4 sockets as a roll of 4, 5, or 6 will all count as a 4. Getting 1, 2, 3 sockets from said armor will only have a 1/6 chance for each.
With that out of the way, I would like to convey two points regarding current runewords:
- Runewords exclude the majority of weapon and armor choices available to players.
- In regards to Ladder, quite a few low level rune words are nearly impossible to craft around their level requirements.
Lets start with Runewords exclude the majority of weapon and armor choices available to players. I will illustrate this point by using melee 1h weapons. Between axes, swords, and maces (including scepters) there are a total of 22 weapons for each item class (normal, exceptional, elite). The number of sockets for each weapon stays the same for all 3 item classes with the exception of the Spiked club’s Elite variation which goes from 2 max sockets to 3 max as a Tyrant Club.
There are 9 weapons (40.9%, becomes 36.4% for elite variants) with 2 maximum sockets:
- Hand Axe, Short Sword, Scimitar, Sabre, Falchion, Club, Spiked Club (becomes 3 sockets as Tyrant Club), Mace, and Scepter.
- War Sword, Morning Star, and Grand Scepter
- Axe, Broad Sword, Long Sword, and War Hammer
- Double Axe, Flail, and War Scepter
- Military Pick, War Axe, and Crystal Sword
Yes, the percentages don’t total 100% as they were round. Lets compare relative abundance of socket types of 1h weapons with relative abundance of sockets used for runewords (the parentheses will indicate the level requirement of the runeword) There are a total of 34 Runewords that can fit these weapons:
3 Runewords (8.8%) requiring 2 sockets:
- Steel (13), Strength (25), and Wind (61)
- Malice (15), King's Grace (25), Black (35), Lawbringer (43), Crescent Moon (47), Venom (49), Fury (65), and Plague (67)
- Holy Thunder (21), Spirit (25), Passion (43), Voice of Reason (43), Oath (49), Kingslayer (53), Rift (53), Heart of the Oak (55), Famine (65), Phoenix (65), and Hand of Justice (67)
- Honor (27), Call to Arms (57), Death (55), Beast (63), Grief (59), Destruction (65), Eternity (63), and Doom (67)
- Unbending Will (41), Last Wish (65), Silence (55), and Breath of the Dying (69)
As you see, there is a large disparity between the item types available in the game vs item types used for runewords. Weapons with 2 maximum sockets are sorely underrepresented whereas 4 and 5 sockets the most favored. In fact, there isn’t a single mid tier runeword that requires 2 sockets. Therefore the 40% of 1h weapons exceptional weapons have no utility.
Lets look at whether certain low level weapons can actually be crafted at their level requirements. Lets use Holy Thunder (EthRalOrtTal Scepters) from the examples above.
We first must determine if these runes would be available at the specified level requirements. Lets examine where these runes can drop:
- Normal Countess, in Act 1 Black Marsh
- Drops El through Ral in normal
- Average drop rate is 1.8 runes per run in single player game.
- she can drop every rune for Holy Thunder
- Drops El through Amn in Normal
- Only 1 guaranteed rune drop per difficulty
We have determined that all of the runes can be obtained in Normal difficulty. They can be obtained by the level requirements of the weapon. Now, the hurdle becomes the base for the runewords.
This runeword require 4 socket scepter and we have initially discovered that Normal difficulty socketed weapon drops are capped at 3. Taking a gamble through the cube is not an option as the recipes require the runes that are higher than the weapon runes. Finding the right base weapon in the right area and getting it socketed by Larzuk is our only option if we wish to make these weapons.
For Holy Thunder, our only weapon choice is a War Scepter. It rolls a maximum of 5 sockets. Larzuk will socket a War Scepter with 3 sockets if its ilvl 25 or below or with 5 sockets if its ilvl 26 or above. It appears that it is impossible for us to make a Holy Thunder outside of going to nightmare and stumbling across a 4 socket War Scepter.