Diablo 3: Shades of the Nephalem

If you have not been keeping up to speed with Diablo 3 seasons, now is about as good a time as any. Season 22 / Patch 2.6.10, dubbed “Shades of the Nephalem”, started out last November 20. We’ve seen a lot of improvements in terms of re-balancing seasonal game features, which I will briefly dive into. However this article will focus mostly on the new Necromancer set, Masquerade of the Burning Carnival.

shades of the nephalem season 22 start

Season 22 Highlights

In Season 21, Diablo 3 players were introduced to the a feature where your character will occasionally (every 90 seconds) channel an elemental power which unleashes into the environment for a limited time.

However, based on player feedback, this was not a very effective nor useful feature. In my experience while playing Season 21, one of the biggest issues is the directionality of the elemental power when it spawns.

Now, in Season 22, aptly named “Shades of the Nephalem”, activating a Shrine or Pylon will spawn in a shadow clone of your class. The clone’s power will scale with your character and will last for one minute or until death. It’s like getting an overpowered sidekick fighting alongside with you!

shades of the nephalem shadow clone

This is especially useful in clearing out the mobs in higher Greater Rift runs (GR90 and above). Mobs in these GR levels can be as tough as boss/elite packs outside of the GR. As boss/elite packs also conveniently spawn near pylons, it now becomes easier to defeat them while the shadow clone is active.

Another major highlight of this season is the addition of 4th Kanai’s Cube Slot. Yes, you read it right, a 4th slot for legendary item effects!

shades of the nephalem Kanai's Cube 4 slots

While the original slots limit your choices to the item class of each slot, it’s free for all in the fourth slot. You can select ANY legendary item effect from the fourth slot, for that extra oomph for your character. This goes a long way to improving class specific builds.

There are also numerous bug fixes and new cosmetic and journey rewards for Season 22. For more details on these, check out this Season 22 blog link from Blizzard.

Masquerade of the Burning Carnival

During my previous Diablo 3 article, I reviewed the Demon Hunter class-specific set, called “Gears of Dreadlands”. Since then, it has consistently stayed in the top of leaderboards. I still revisit my regular Demon Hunter character from time to time to experience this “GoD”-tier set.

However, for Season 22 “Shades of the Nephalem”, I am playing a Necromancer. I decided to equip my character with a 6-piece set called the “Masquerade of the Burning Carnival“, which works well with Bone Spear-centric builds.

Let’s examine each of the set bonuses:

2-piece bonus

Simulacrums no longer take damage, gains all runes, and its cooldown is refreshed when you die

Simulacrum is a Necromancer skill under the Blood and Bone category. When cast, it creates an entity that is treated as a Minion but will not attack on its own. Instead it will duplicate all secondary skills that consume Essence (i.e. the primary resource of a Necromancer).

Let’s see all the runes of the Simulacrum skill:

shades of the nephalem simulacrum runes

Getting at least 2-pieces of the set will already give a huge boost to the skill, with Simulacrum gaining all the rune effects. Also, thanks to the Blood and Bone rune, Simulacrums are now summoned in pairs. It is a good starting point for the build, if you don’t have all the set pieces yet.

Keep in mind that, Simulacrums can still take damage and eventually be destroyed. Also, this set effect benefits greatly from any stat mods or bonuses for minions/pets.

4-piece bonus

While a Simulacrum is active, damage taken is reduced by 50%, and damage taken is split between the Necromancer and their Simulacrums.

The 4-piece bonus is essentially the defensive component of the set effect. This gives a huge damage reduction to the Necromancer, which is much needed for higher GR levels.

This set bonus actually scales well with the Unity-follower setup, reducing the overall damage to a mere 8.3%! However, later on we’ll see that it’s not the optimal setup for the full set bonus.

6-piece bonus

Your Bone Spear deals 10,000% increased damage. Simulacrums gain triple this bonus.

This is obviously a huge damage boost to Bone Spear. It goes without saying that Bone Spear will be the main damage dealer for whatever build this class set will be used for.

PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Huge damage output either from main character or simulacrums.
  • All curses are applied at the same time when any curse is cast.
  • Very tanky, thanks to the 4-set bonus.

Cons:

  • Requires the full 6-piece set bonus to be viable for higher GRs. (Not necessarily requiring all the 6 pieces, as you can be 1 item short and compensate using Ring of Royal Grandeur.)
  • Requires a lot of other supporting items in order for the build to shine.
  • Losing Simulacrums in the middle of the fight can be a hassle. This leaves you pretty much defenseless until they are casted again. However, this should be a very infrequent occurrence in the game.
  • Requires good positioning a fairly good amount of moving around, especially not to get stuck when bosses/elites toss out lethal elemental effects.

Necromancer build setup for “Shades of the Nephalem”

My initial viable setup for the Masquerade of the Burning Carnival is based on this Icy-Veins build in this link. I made some changes to my own build, as can be seen below:

shades of the nephalem masquerade bonespear

Additional items for synergy

As I mentioned in the CONS section above, there are several equipment that synergize well with this set to make this build truly shine:

  • Scythe of the Cycle – for damage boost to synergize with Bone Armor.
  • Maltorius’ Petrified Spike – always cubed in order to get max damage increase. Also, it is a 2-hand scythe, which will prevent the use of a phylactery if equipped on-character.
  • Reilena’s Shadowhook – additional damage boost. Always cubed, as it is a 2-hand scythe, and almost always goes on the 4th Kanai’s cube slot.
  • Lost Time – for Crowd Control (CC) effects, synergizes well with Bane of the Trapped.
  • Razeth’s Volition – might be an odd choice for the build, but is an optional addition for the damage reduction bonus.
  • Gelmindor’s Marrow Guards – damage boost for Bone Spear. Usually cubed in lieu of a stronger bracer on-character, depending on the actual build.
  • Brigg’s Wrath – for CC effects, lumps the mobs together and makes it easier for Bone Spear to do its job.
  • Krysbin’s Sentence – CC effects with damage boost synergy
  • Haunted Visions – Simulacrums last FOREVER (or until they take enough damage and get destroyed).
  • Convention of Elements – for elemental damage boost. Ideally cubed for max % damage.
  • Wisdom of Kalan – for added tankiness. Ideally cubed.

I have just recently started to explore a 5-piece variant of this set together with a 2-piece setup of the Aughild’s Authority set, for additional damage and defense boost:

shades of the nephalem aughild's authority

I had to swap the bracers and helm of the Masquerade set for that the Aughild’s and also used Ring of the Royal Grandeur on the jewelry slot in Kanai’s Cube to get the 6-piece and 2-piece set bonuses, respectively.

Active Skill Setup:

SlotSkillDescription
Primary (Left click)Grim ScytheAlmost always with the Frost Scythe rune, for CC effects.
Secondary (Right click)Bone SpearThe main damage dealer. Rune variants will depend on the build type:

Close Quarters (CQ) – Shatter or Teeth
Crowd Control + Mobility – Crystallization
Full Damage – Blighted Marrow (my current choice)
NUM1Bone ArmorA must to make the build tanky. Rune variants will depend on the build type:

Full Damage – Vengeful Armaments
CQ + CC – Dislocation (my current choice)
Defense – Limited Immunity
NUM2Blood RushVery useful to get out of immobilize effects and for getting around. Rune variants will depend on the build type. Personally, I go with the Metabolism rune for the extra charge.
NUM3SimulacrumMain support skill. Doesn’t matter which rune to choose as it gains all the runes from the 2-set bonus.
NUM4FrailtyVery powerful curse that auto-kills any enemy at 15% health or below. I go with the Aura of Frailty rune just because I’m too lazy to cast the curse.

Passive Skill Setup:

SkillDescription
Bone PrisonFor CC effects
Stand AloneGives a significant defense boost
Rigor MortisCC and damage effects synergy with poison skills
Dark ReapingBoost for Essence recovery

2 months of Season 22 “Shades of the Nephalem” – so far

My personal experience is that “Shades of the Nephalem” is a very enjoyable season so far. The addition of a new Necromancer set brought some new vibrance to a class that seems to have been left behind in the leaderboards. The resurgence of the Bone Spear build is also a refreshing break from all the Corpse Explosion builds that have dominated Necromancer leaderboards.

For a game that is on “maintenance mode” already, Diablo 3 remains an enjoyable game with all the season features and re-balancing that Blizzard brings to it. I enjoy the seasonal runs so much that my seasonal Paragon levels have actually exceeded my regular Paragon levels as of this writing!

The improvements in Season 22 synergizes well with the Masquerade of the Burning Carnival set and brings a whole new different gameplay to the Necromancer. I also never thought I can stand toe-to-toe with Demon Hunters in terms of sheer damage output. Playstyle is very relaxed, and the builds are quite forgiving, provided you equip with the right stats.

The next upcoming event for Diablo 3 is the annual “Darkening of Tristram” event. This takes players back all the way to the events of the original Diablo game. By the time of publishing for this article, the event will have already started, so stay tuned for my review of the said events in the coming days.

That wraps up my summary for Season 22 of Diablo 3, “Shades of the Nephalem. You can add me up on Diablo 3 if you wanna get into a few runs with me, my BattleTag is HIKARU#6867.

Thank you for sticking till the end of the article! Stay tuned for more reviews of Diablo 3 equipment sets and character builds.

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