Challenge Rift Weekly - Bones of Rathma Necromancer
In this weekly column, we'll be taking a deep dive into the Challenge Rift for the Americas. We'll compare this Challenge Rift to previous ones for the class (as well as previous Challenge Rifts in general) while providing you with tips on how to beat the original time and tactics to help you climb the Leaderboard. Let's get started!
This week's Challenge Rift is brought to you by a Bones of Rathma Necromancer, which means we're all about those Skeletal Mages and anything that helps support pet play. The gear chosen by the original player is mostly spot on for what you would typically want. They have the full 6-piece set of course, with rolls that help support the Skeletal Mages do better damage (Attack Speed and Area Damage, for example). There are also several instances where they made the intelligent choice of rolling Armor on their gear, since Intelligence classes will want to diversify their defense due to having an abundance of All Resistance from their main stat.
The level of Greater Rift here is a 45 (which is the same as last week's Challenge Rift and maybe represents the new standard Blizzard is aiming for), so the choice of the Endless Walk set doesn't get to fully shine since you kill everything a little too quickly to want to stand still all that often. The Reaper's Wraps, however, are a clutch inclusion, as you really want to pour as many points of Essence into your Singularity Skeletal Mages (more on that in the Skills section) and being able to convert all the Health Globes that you'll be generating into Essence feeds nicely into that gameplay. Our other ring is a Krysbin's Sentence, which is crucial for any Necromancer that wants to do appreciable damage.
The more peculiar gearing choices include a Krelm's Buff Belt, which usually doesn't see much play except for speedruns when you're doing the Conquest to clear Acts I-V in under an hour, but it's likely that the original player was still on the hunt for better pieces of gear. This become more apparent when we look at the weapon, the Funerary Pick, which has zero synergy with the build. It's just an Ancient stat stick in this case. We also have a Lidless Wall, which actually is kind of nice for boosting the Physical elemental damage, but I'd guess that these last two choices are just placeholders until this player finds their Jesseth set items.
The skills all make sense. The Rathma set requires you to use Skeletal Mages to build up your 6-piece set bonus damage, and one of the strongest runes by far is Singularity, so I approve of this player building around that. Bone Spikes with Sudden Impact will help generate Essence and proc stuns to trigger Krysbin's Senetence, while Blood Rush with Metabolism helps us move through the Greater Rift faster, especially on the first floor with all of the walls that we can pass through. Command Skeletons with Freezing Grasp is another source of activation for Krysbin's Sentence, and it also benefits from the 6-piece set bonus, making them great ancillary damage dealers.
A nice combo is introduced with Land of the Dead - Frozen Lands and Devour - Devouring Aura. Due to unreliable cooldown reduction in the build, you won't have a lot of uptime on Land of the Dead, but when you do activate it, not only will all enemies be frozen and eligible for your Krysbin's Sentence bonus damage, but the Essence will also pour in due to the constant corpse consumptions. This allows you to keep very beefed up Singularity Skeletal Mages raining down on your enemies. Crunching all the corpses will also generate plenty of Health Globes due to the Life from Death passive, which in turn gives you more Essence thanks to Reaper's Wraps. Such synergy!
The other passives are all great choices as Final Service gives you another chance at life (at the cost of your Command Skeletons though), Overwhelming Essence increases your maximum Essence that you can pour into the Skeletal Mages, and Extended Servitude keeps those Skeletal Mages around longer.
Kanai's Cube & Legendary Gems
Let's analyze the Legendary gem choices and the Kanai's Cube powers. The gems are all above the Rank 25 threshold, which is nice to see. We have:
- Rank 35 Enforcer, which makes perfect sense when you're playing with pets;
- Rank 35 Esoteric Alteration, which will provide some extra defense to the squishy Necromancer; and
- Rank 25 Bane of the Powerful, which improves your damage throughout the Greater Rift and assists with hunting the Elites down faster.
In the Cube, we have the following:
- Reilena's Shadowhook, which will provide us with increased damage in relation to our Maximum Essence. If you recall, our Maximum Essence is being boosted by the Overwhelming Essence passive, but this player also took it further by maxing out Paragon points in Maximum Essence. They also have a Maximum Essence roll on their Lidless Wall (but not on the Funerary Pick). Additionally, there is a little more synergy with the increased Essence generation that we'll get from using Bone Spikes as well.
- Steuart's Greaves will provide us with a speed boost for a couple of seconds after we Blood Rush. This is a nice utility item for speedfarming, but ideally, a pet build would want to see Tasker and Theo here. It's likely the original player hadn't come across those gloves just yet.
- Circle of Nailuj's Evol, which is a necessary inclusion when you're playing Rathma's set. This will help you produce an additional Skeletal Mage per activation of the skill, which is pretty insane when you're using all of your Essence to make one. This ring power also gives your Skeletal Mages extended duration, so that they'll hang out with you longer.
Playing The Challenge Rift
The original time for the owner of this Challenge Rift is 6:01. That's not too bad and seems to be a little on the quicker side of what Blizzard has been aiming for in past Challenge Rifts. There is PLENTY of room for improvement in this Challenge Rift though, so don't worry. Beating the time will not be hard.
The best recommendation is to make sure that you're Blood Rushing in clever ways. If there's a wall between you and a good chunk of density, don't take the long way around. Blood Rush right on over. There are two pylons on the first floor - a Power to the north of your starting location and a Speed to the right of the Power. I would use a route that leads you that way and kill whatever you meet along the way. You'll run into several Elites on this path, and as long as you're constantly making good-sized-in-Essence Skeletal Mages, you should be ripping through the trash and only needing a few hits on the Elites. I would suggest only making Skeletal Mages when you have about 3/4 to a full bulb of Essence, although you can make some lesser powerful ones along the way, too, if you just want to keep your numbers up.
The second floor has really nice trash mobs as far as progression goes and a Conduit pylon. It's also a relatively straight shot, so if you explore it all, you'll find everything you need and you should be able to spawn the Rift Guardian on this floor. If not, there is an Elite shortly after the door that brings you to the third floor, and surely by then you'll have enough to spawn the Rift Guardian. If you have a decent amount of Skeletal Mages out by the time the Guardian pops up, it should only live for a couple of seconds, as the single-target damage here is great.
Make sure to pick up any Health Globes you see on your path, but without wasting too much time, to help you keep the Essence coming in. Use Land of the Dead when you think you'll be able to get it activated on two Elite packs. I like to personally use it right at the start just to get things going and then at some point on the second floor.
That's really all there is to it! Here is a video of sVr_90 running what is currently the fourth best time for this week's Challenge Rift:
So, how does this week's Challenge Rift stack up to previous efforts? I feel this is yet another solid selection. I personally am not a huge Necromancer fan/player currently, but Bones of Rathma is a pretty straightforward set and playstyle, so this makes for a Challenge Rift that is easy to play. The Greater Rift in particular here is a bit interesting because the first floor is so labyrinthine that it provides you with many different routes that could be faster or slower. That's potentially both good and bad, depending on which side of the coin you're on.
The second Challenge Rift that we had in the Americas was an Inarius Corpse Explosion Necromancer. That build made sense for the most part, but the Greater Rift itself had a lot of technical aspects to it that made it tough to bring out the fastest times. Comparing this week's to that one, that previous one was more challenging. It boils down to which you prefer either as a competitive player or someone that's simply just trying to get their Challenge Rift cache and get back to whatever they were doing previously. Both were fun to play, but I personally preferred Week 2.
Comparing this Challenge Rift to the others that we've had in the Americas, I feel it's probably in the Top 3 or 5. Again, it helps that the build makes a lot of sense and that the Greater Rift isn't too difficult to navigate. Players will likely enjoy this Challenge Rift, and that goes a long way to catapulting it over some of the previous entries. My most basic criteria for judging successful Challenge Rift entries are seeing if the build is easy to operate for your average player and if there is still complexity left for players that want to min-max every bit of utility to achieve the fastest times. This Challenge Rift definitely nails the former and does a decent job with the latter, so I'd give it a B+!
Check out our previous coverage of other Challenge Rifts:
Have you tried this week's Challenge Rift? Were you able to earn your Challenge Rift cache right away, or did it take you a few attempts? Have any other tips that I missed? Feel free to sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!
Leviathan (@LeviathanD3) is a content creator for Diablo Fans and a Hardcore Crusader for life. You can likely catch him streaming high Leaderboard/Conquest rank attempts unless he's out taking photographs or discovering new music.