There is a world of issues with sets and uniques that will require a more in-depth analysis of the issues but the most overlooked properties for sets often overlooked is their inability to roll ethereal or include staffmods on class specific gear and staves/scepters/wands.
Sets and bows are the only items in game that can’t roll ethereal. The logic for bows/crossbows is they have no durability. There is no logic as to why sets were exempt from the ethereal roll. Having ethereal sets would open up some early game merc gear options and even LLD builds.
For clarity for those new to the game, examples of staffmods:
- The +1-3 of individual skills skills you find on on staves, wands, scepters , orbs, shrunken heads, and class specific helms.
- Up to 3 skills different class specific skills can appear on any of these items with examples being:
- +1 to +3 Enchant on staves
- +1 to +3 Zeal with +1 to +3 Holy Shock on a scepter
- +1 to +3 Find Item with +1 to +3 Sword Mastery and +1 to +3 Berserk on a Barbarian Helm
- +1-3 all bow or spear skills on Amazon class specific gear.
- +5-45 resistance or +10-65% Enhanced damage/+15-121 Attack Rating on Paladin Shields
- +1-80 mana or +1-60 life on Sorceress Orbs.
- 2 to 7 up to 25 to 50 poison damage over 3 seconds on shrunken heads
These staffmods make low level runewords absurdly superior to Uniques or Sets of the similar level requirements:
The Salamander is a level 21 requirements unique staff. It has the following fixed stats:
- +50% Damage To Undead
- Adds 15-32 Fire Damage
- Fire Resist +30%
- +2 To Fire Skills
- +3 To Warmth (Sorceress Only)
- +2 To Fire Ball (Sorceress Only)
- +1 To Fire Wall (Sorceress Only)
- Adds 5-30 Fire Damage
- +3 To Fire Skills
- +3 To Fire Bolt (Sorceress Only)
- +3 To Inferno (Sorceress Only)
- +3 To Warmth (Sorceress Only)
- +2 To Mana After Each Kill
- + (2 Per Character Level) +2-198 To Defense (Based On Character Level)
- Cold Resist +33%
- This staff provides a total of +4 to Fire Ball or +3 to Fire Wall at level 21. These + skills are fixed attributes and are not staffmods.
- You can have a build using this staff to have a synergized Fire Ball of level 14 (10 hard points +4 from staff) with 12 hard points in Fire Bolt. Your Fire Ball damage would be 332-379 (355.5 average) at level 21.
- Alternatively, you can have a build using this staff to have a synergized Fire Wall of level 7 (4 hard points + 3 from staff) with 16 hard points in Warmth. Your Fire Wall damage would be 533 to 572 (552.5 average) per second at level 21.
LEAF is a level 19 requirements runeword that requires a 2 socket staff and the rule Tir and Ral. It provides the following bonuses:
- Leaf starts off with just +3 to Fire Ball or Fire Wall but you can shop for a +3 Fire Ball or +3 Fire Wall base staff(you can even find both staffmods on the same staff since it can roll up to 3 different skills) to get a total of +6 to Fire Ball or + 6 to Fire Wall on the staff. We will keep the build comparison the same level even though you can use this staff 2 levels earlier than the unique.
- You can have a build using this staff to have a synergized Fire Ball of level 16 (10 hard points +6 from staff) with 12 hard points in Fire Bolt. Your Fire Ball damage would be 422-486 (454 average) at level 21.
- Alternatively, you can have a build using this staff to have a synergized Fire Wall of level 10 (4 hard points + 6 from staff) with 16 hard points in Warmth. Your Fire Wall damage would be 928 to 966 (947 average) per second at level 21.
The Leaf staff build does 27.7% more Fire Ball damage or 71.4% more Fire Wall damage than the Salamander staff at the same level. Leaf is also exponentially easier to find/make than the Salamander staff as you can farm Normal Countess and buy the right base from Act 1 or 2 vendors.
Lets compare another:
- Infernal Torch is a level 5 wand from the Inferal Tools set that got "revived" this patch. It's stats are (let's ignore the fact that every low level caster set is designed around melee):
- +1 To Necromancer Skill Levels
- +8 to Min Damage
- 150% Damage to Undead
- Infernal Torch provides +1 all skills so your Teeth will be level 6. You will summon 7 teeth that will do 7-9 (8 average) magic damage each.
- A +3 Teeth wand that you found off Akara will yield a level 8 Teeth. You will summon 10 teeth that will do 10-12 (11 average) magic damage each.
Alternative is to buy a + 3 skills wand from a vendor from Act 1 or 2 which provides the stats relevant to your build. Let’s just assume Teeth for simplicity. At level 5, all 5 of your points will be in Teeth (you should have den done by level 5). Lets compare the damage:
There we have it, a white wand off a vendor yields 37.5% more skill damage than a set wand that you will never find at level 5 on your own. If you are all about that melee caster life, find one with 2 sockets and throw some chipped rubies/topazes in there.