A comprehensive guide to obtaining high runes in D2R using key farming, uber tristram, and trading

Since the servers are down again, I thought I'd use my Diablo time to document what my method has been for reliably obtaining high runes. I've played D2 off and on since it was originally released but never been able to get over the cusp and make some gg rune words – until the release of D2R. Using the method I'll describe below, I was able to get the runes for an Enigma in just a little over two weeks – and it could have been much faster if I had focused fully on this task.

Step 1: Farm keys for the Pandemonium Event

This section will assume you know how the Pandemonium Event works.

Choose your character

So, unless you already have an enigma, the most efficient class for key farming will be a sorceress, because of teleport. My personal recommendation would be to use a lightning sorceress, since the Countess and her minions are always immune to both fire and cold. In addition, Nihlatak's minions are always cold immune – and he himself has a high natural cold resistance – meaning he will be cold immune more often than fire or lightning, depending on what modifiers he rolls.

That said, a Blizzard sorceress is fully capable of farming keys – you'll just have to reset Nihlatak a bit more often, and you'll need a merc capable of killing the countess. I'd stick with the cold sorc if you also want to take a break from key farming and do other things, as lightning sorcs are not that great at farming with beginner gear.

Gearing up

Since we are only focusing on killing these three enemies, we can do this with pretty minimal gear. The most important thing you'll want is to have at least 105% total faster cast rate across your items. This allows the sorceress to teleport through enemies without getting hit. The easiest way to accomplish this would be to have Spirit rune word on your sword and shield, Magefist (or Trang-Oul's Gloves), and then 10% FCR on your rings and amulet. Depending on the FCR that your Spirits rolled, you may not need all of this – just be sure that you are at 105% or more without sacrificing good gear options. If you are a lightning sorceress, you can also aim for the 117% FCR breakpoint to make your lightning skills cast faster, but you'll need either an Arachnid Mesh, a FCR circlet, a HotO, or very good rolls on both of your Spirits to hit this breakpoint.

As far as the rest of your gear, I'd recommend a bit of survivability (fire and lightning resistance are the most important) on top of whatever other +skills items you can find. Having some more magic find is never a bad thing – Nihlatak can actually drop some pretty decent gear – but if your primary goal is farming keys, don't worry about it too much.

If you're having trouble acquiring this gear, I'd highly recommend using the D2R Trading discord. You can trade the runes you get from the Countess for some decent items.

Farm those keys

The three spots we will be farming each have their own tricks for farming faster. Rather than explain them here, I'll just link to guides that others have compiled:

Killing the Countess and the Summoner should be pretty easy, even with bad gear. Nihlatak can be pretty dangerous, depending on what other mobs spawn down there (FUCK the tomb vipers) and what mods Nihlatak spawns with. Don't be afraid to just Save+Exit if Nihlatak is immune to lightning or if there are dangerous mobs down there. Nihlatak is by far the fastest of the three key bosses to get to, so it should even out a bit in the end.

My usual route would be to go to the Black Marsh waypoint first. Kill the countess, TP back to town and go to the Arcane Sanctuary waypoint. Kill the summoner, take the portal to the Canyon of the Magi, then take that waypoint to Nihlatak. Once I kill Nihlatak (or determine that I don't want to kill him), I'd Save+Exit without going back to town. Then in my next game I'd start in town in act 5.

I'll just warn you now: farming keys exclusively can feel a bit soul-crushing when you hit an unlucky streak. The odds are supposed to be about 1:12 or so for getting a key drop, but getting 50 runs in a row without a Summoner key does happen, and can get really frustrating.

Once you have at least three keys of each type, you're ready for the next step.

Step 2: I've got the keys. Now what?

Option 1: Sell the keys

On the D2R Trading discord there are dozens of smiters eager to sell their unidentified torches for "4×3 keysets", meaning four of each key. If you'd rather farm extra keys than make a smiter and kill the ubers yourself, you will have no shortage of people willing to trade you torches for your keys. The other choice would be to…

Option 2: Make a smite paladin and kill the ubers

There have been plenty of guides written about killing ubers, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. If you've never killed the ubers before, I would highly recommend watching

where MrLlamaSC takes down the ubers with awful gear. It is very easy to get better gear than what he is showing, but his video illustrates that it can be done with even worse gear.

I'll list some gear options below and the runes that can usually trade for them, if applicable.

  • Helm – Guillaume's Face (Lem/Fal)
  • Weapon – Black
  • Shield – 4 perfect diamonds in a paladin shield
  • Body – Duress (you should also have a Treachery that you'll want to proc Fade on before your fight with Uber Mephisto)
  • Gloves – Crafted crushing blow gloves. Dracul's Grasp are much better but typically require Mal or more to trade for, usually Ist.
  • Belt – Thundergod's Vigor (Pul/Um)
  • Boots – Goblin Toe (Ko/Fal)
  • Ring – Raven Frost Very important to have "cannot be frozen" (Pul/Lem)
  • Ring – More resistances
  • Amulet – Metalgrid (Um) or any amulet with all resistances
  • Charms – Lots of life and resistances

Okay! So you've watched the guides and taken down the ubers. Next step is to…

Step 3: Trade your torch

Option 1: Roll the dice

So you just picked up your torch and you want to identify it, right? Well…maybe. The thing is, Sorceress and Paladin torches are worth far more than torches for other classes. Based on the trades I've been making and seeing over the past couple of weeks, this is the approximate value I'd associate with each type of torch (edit: downgraded the value of non-sorc/pally torches after some feedback):

Everyone ElseUmMal/IstIst/Gul

So, you could definitely identify that torch. In fact, if it's your first torch, I would encourage it. Even if it's not a sorc or pally torch, it will greatly help your uber clearing rate to equip it. However, the odds are you would be better of by…

Option 2: Sell it unidentified

If you're confident with your uber clearing ability, the best option is to sell the torch for a 4×3 keyset. What you're essentially doing is guaranteeing a 1×3 set of keys, in exchange for the time spent to kill the ubers. Depending on how quickly you can kill the ubers, this might not be a good use of your time. Personally I'd do it every time, mostly because I have a lot more fun killing ubers rather than farming keys.

You can also sell the torch for a 3×3 keyset + another rune. I've seen people ask for 3×3 + Mal, or 3×3 + Ist. That's a fine option if you want some more mid-level runes – personally I never went for this option.

The option I did most often (and was also the easiest to find buyers for) was to sell the torch unidentified for a Vex. In my opinion, it's the best guarantee of results for your time. If I focused on just farming keys and killing ubers, I'd average a Vex rune about every 2.5 hours or so – a pretty good return value. As of this posting, Vex can trade for Shako or Arachnid Mesh, or better – for other high runes!

Step 4: Trade up for high runes

Even if you don't get lucky with some sweet paladin/sorc torches to get the high runes directly, you can use your Vex runes to trade up for higher runes. Once you can get two Sur runes, you can cube them up to a Ber. Ber can trade for a Jah with just a little bit more work – and there's no rune worth more than Ber or Jah!

As of this posting, these are examples of fair value trades I would make:

Vex <-> Gul + Ist
Vex + Ist + Ist <-> Ohm
Vex + Ohm <-> Sur/Lo
Lo <-> Sur
Ber + Ist <-> Jah

Special Note – You don't always want to cube two runes together. For example, two Ber runes are worth FAR more than a Jah rune. Two Ists are worth a lot more than Gul. Here's a quick reference of whether you should cube runes together or not. For answers of "Maybe", I'd say usually don't do it unless you are very close to acquiring a high value item.

RecipeDo it?
2 Pul -> UmYes
2 Um -> MalMaybe
2 Mal -> IstYes
2 Ist -> GulNo
2 Gul -> VexYes
2 Vex -> OhmMaybe
2 Ohm -> LoNo
2 Lo -> SurNO
2 Sur -> BerYes
2 Ber -> JahNO
2 Jah -> ChamOH GOD NO

At current rune values, I'd estimate you could get the runes for Enigma (Jah + Ith + Ber) or Infinity (Ber+Mal+Ber+Ist) with 6-7 Vex runes, plus some time finding trade partners. Not bad at all!


TL;DR – Farm keys, acquire torches, trade torches for high runes

Hopefully this was a helpful guide. If there are any questions, or sections you'd like me to expand upon, please let me know. Also, please let me know if I made any mistakes so I can correct them.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


Similar Guides

    None Found

More about Diablo

Post: "A comprehensive guide to obtaining high runes in D2R using key farming, uber tristram, and trading" specifically for the game Diablo. Other useful information about this game:

Top 20 NEW Medieval Games of 2021

Swords, dragons, knights, castles - if you love any of this stuff, you might like these games throughout 2021.

10 NEW Shooter Games of 2021 With Over The Top Action

We've been keeping our eye on these crazy action oriented first and third person shooter games releasing this year. What's on your personal list? Let us know!

Top 10 NEW Survival Games of 2021

Survival video games are still going strong in 2021. Here's everything to look forward to on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and beyond.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *