Favorite legendary gems in Diablo 3’s Season 4
Zoltun Kulle brought a second trio of build items to the game with Kanai’s Cube, where you can equip three legendary powers which you’ve previously extracted from their items. But Seasons were introduced a little over a year ago with patch 2.1, and they brought with them the first build trios to remember — legendary gems.
Legendary gems 101
Legendary gems aren’t ordinarily colored gems that provide a flat or single percentage stat when socketed into armor. Legendary gems can only be socketed into jewelry slots — amulet and each ring — so you can only have three equipped at one time. A legendary gem has a unique effect that increases with the gem’s rank. At rank or level 25 of a legendary gem, a second effect activates for the player to use, though the first effect continues to increase with each rank. There are currently 20 legendary gems, including the Season 4 legendary gem, Bane of the Stricken.
You level legendary gems by advancing through higher and higher Greater Rifts. At the end of a Greater Rift, a legendary gem will drop until you have them all on your current character. Urshi, a Greater Rift-only artisan, also appears if you completed the rift before the time limit was up. She’ll offer three rank upgrades to any gem or combination of gems, at a specific roll chance for a successful rank upgrade. The success roll chance depends on the difference between the Greater Rift (GR) level and the legendary gem’s current rank level. You get a guaranteed upgrade if the current gem rank is 10 levels or more below the Greater Rift. The success chance decreases per closer level until it plateaus at 60% upgrade chance through to the same level GR as gem. Once the gem starts to be higher than the Greater Rift level, your odds of success halve for each level difference, until you get to a 0% chance upgrade at a gem being 7 levels higher than the Greater Rift.
You can use this gem calculator site, or you can use this TL;DR for a decent chance at upgrades:
- 100%: GR ≥ gem + 10
- 90%: GR = gem + 9
- 80%: GR = gem + 8
- 70%: GR = gem + 7
- 60%: GR = gem + (6…0)
Legendary gems are uniquely held; that is, you can have one of each in your stash combined with your current character’s inventory and equipment. You can send a legendary gem to another character on the same core and then run rifts again to get a duplicate legendary gem. For example, my Witch Doctor has a Pain Enhancer sitting in stash. However, when my Monk visits Urshi at the end of a Greater Rift, she sees two Pain Enhancer gems, because she had one equipped when the Witch Doctor put the second one in the stash. Similarly, my Monk saw a Gogok of Swiftness drop in her Greater Rift, even though my Witch Doctor already had one equipped, because within the set of gems currently available to my Monk through the stash, her inventory, or her equipment, she didn’t have a Gogok. This duplication practice becomes handy when Hardcore players make “backups” of their characters, whereby they roll another character and stash old or duplicate gear on the backup character in case the main character dies.
The non-combat legendary gems
There are two legendary gems that don’t have a direct bonus toward combat in Diablo 3, whether to the offensive or defensive side. One can be played with certain legendary items to provide defensive or offensive bonuses on gold pickup, and the other can be used with Kanai’s Cube to allow characters below level cap to use items.
Boon of the Hoarder:
- Increasing effect: (25.0 + rank*1.5)% chance on killing an enemy to cause an explosion of gold.
- Rank 25 effect: Gain 30% increased movement speed for 2 seconds after picking up gold.
Boon of the Hoarder is the only legendary gem that you can’t get from a Greater Rift. You have to get it from killing Greed, who sits in the Vault. You can either wait for a Vault portal to spawn naturally from a treasure goblin’s death, or you can stick the Puzzle Ring by itself into Kanai’s Cube to generate a Vault portal on demand (this consumes the Puzzle Ring, by the way). However, you really only need one of these gems, for once you stick it on a farming character, gold never becomes an issue again.
There are legendary items that can turn dropped gold into a combat bonus. For instance, the legendary belt Goldwrap will give you armor for five seconds equal to the amount of gold you picked up. But this gem is not often used for combat purposes. At rank 25, enemies are exploding with gold over half the time.
Gem of Ease:
- Increasing effect: Monster kills grant +(500 + rank*50) experience.
- Rank 25 effect: Level requirement of the item this gem is socketed into is set to 1.
This the only legendary gem that can be socketed into not only jewelry sockets, but also weapon sockets; it, however, still does not work for armor sockets. With the introduction of Kanai’s Cube, you can make armor equippable by characters under level 70 by using this gem at rank 25 and the item in the Cube. If you do keep the Gem of Ease at rank 25 in a powerful weapon for leveling characters, the bonus experience for each monster kill is +1750.
Favorite defensive gems
Although there are a handful of defensive legendary gems, two stick out as favorites in the current Season. Softcore characters tend to not pick defensive gems unless they’re trying to push really high or if they’re attempting to play a zDPS build. Hardcore characters are more likely to have one if not both favorite defensive legendary gems.
Molten Wildebeest’s Gizzard:
- Increasing effect: Regenerates (10,000 + rank*1,000) Life per Second
- Rank 25 effect: After not taking damage for 4 seconds, gain an absorb shield for 200% of your total Life per Second.
You can see how this increasing ranked effect folds neatly into the rank 25 effect. The higher you go, the bigger your shield gets, and the more likely you’ll be not one-shot by high difficulty monster hits.
- Increasing effect: Gain (10.0 + rank*0.5)% non-Physical damage reduction.
- Rank 25 effect: While below half Life, your resistances to Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, and Arcane are increased by 75%.
This legendary gem is obviously well-liked because it provides damage reduction from every school that contributes to elite affix damage. At rank 25, you’re already taking a fifth less damage from non-Physical sources. You’re out of luck with taking Physical damage, but you should be covered your passives and other defensive stats.
Favorite offensive gems
Witch Doctors love their pet builds, and their pet builds love Enforcer. Demon Hunters love to shoot from afar with Zei’s Stone of Vengeance. Iceblink has made a comeback in some builds while Gem of Efficacious Toxin has faded from significance. Taeguk and Gogok are still favorites for class builds that hit things often. However, the Banes are the three legendary gems that show up a lot across all six Nephalem classes at least at some point. Bane of the Trapped is seen in nearly every build, with Bane of the Stricken a close second.
Bane of the Powerful:
- Increasing effect: Gain 20% increased damage for (30 + rank*1) seconds after killing an elite pack.
- Rank 25 effect: Increases damage against elites by 15.0%.
This is a good gem for those starting and running lower Greater Rifts (GR20 and below). Bane of the Powerful provides a flat damage bonus for beginning rift-runners who might not have another crucial gem leveled up. Around Greater Rift 20, gems with increasing stacks or increasing percent damage done effects start to outpace Bane of the Powerful’s flat 15-and-20% damage bonuses. This gem is still seen in higher ranks in various class builds, if there’s a lack of other favorite gems.
Bane of the Stricken:
- Increasing effect: Each attack you make against an enemy increases the damage it takes from your attacks by (0.80 + rank*0.01)%.
- Rank 25 effect: Gain 25% increased damage against bosses and Rift Guardians.
Bane of the Stricken is the new Season 4 legendary gem, which means that for now you’ll only see this gem if you’re playing a seasonal character. The rank 25 effect is delicious for melting bosses and elites from higher Greater Rifts, although it doesn’t do much for the trash around and in between. At rank 25, each hit increases the damage taken by just over 1%. Your pets’ hits can’t add to the effect, but they can benefit from it.
Bane of the Trapped:
- Increasing effect: Increase damage against enemies under the effects of control-impairing effects by (15.0 + rank*0.3)%.
- Rank 25 effect: Gain an aura that reduces the movement speed of enemies within 15 yards by 30%.
This gem shows up in nearly every high-end build, especially in Hardcore characters. First, control-impairing effects make up a wide variety of skills across all classes. Control-impairments include but are not limited to: snares, roots, knockbacks, chill effects, freeze effects, blinds, charms, hexes, confusion, fears, and stuns. Once the gem is leveled to 25, a character doesn’t even need to play an ability with control-impairment because the gem will do it for you.
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