Guide to rush a new season

Blue: Something which is part of the general plan
Green: Doing this is part of the 4 first chapters of the journey
Red: Something you should NOT do

Introduction

I. The weekly challenge rift

II. A better starter

III. Finally ready to start

IV. The equipement

V. Grinding

VI. Carrying a level 70 weapon

VII. I'm level 70 ! And now ?

VIII. What to do in a nutshell

IX. Special tips for solo

Conclusion

 

Introduction

For this guide, we will assume that you're playing in a group of 4 players, that all of you are focused on the same goal, rushing the early season to be 70 and to have a full set from Haedrig's gifts.
Using a vocal program is not necessary, especially if everyone is experienced enough to know what to do, but it's a valuable help to not lose time, to help each other when you're in a scarry situation ( mostly for hardcore mode players ) and last but not least having some fun during the boring part of the rush when you don't need to focus.
For players that still want / can only play in solo, we will add some alternatives in the end of the guide. But most tips of this guide will still work for you, lonely Nephalem.
Think about what class to play at start of season, maybe take in condesideration which sets will be granted by Haedrig's gifts. Think about a name. You got to be ready to create your character in a few seconds.

I. The weekly Challenge rift

Do not take the cache from the challenge rift until the season starts. The reward from this rift will give you :

  • 318 white materials, 302 blue materials, 106 yellow materials -> to craft some weapons later and maybe some sets ( Cain / Born )
  • 4.6 millions gold -> upgrading artisans, crafting items, rolling a few stats
  • 475 shards -> to gamble some items very fast, eventually level 1 to put it on cube in the very early game
  • 10 death breathes -> to upgrade artisans to level 12
  • 15 legendary materials of each act -> to put some items on cube

So, this reward will help a lot with ressources. You should not be slowed by the miss of a ressource in the early game. But, still be careful, don't waste it, you will need most of them at each step of your rush.
In case your group didn't prepare this rift before the season starts, do it in 4 players, it should be fast and simple.

II. A better starter

Launch the game on adventure mode. You will start with the 3 artisans, be able to go for the cube, craft, and have access to bounties and rifts. Choose the Hard difficulty ( 75% experience bonus ). XP is better than on lower level and mobs are still easy to kill. When you will be strong enough, you will go on higher difficulty, Master or even higher. Don't choose the Expert difficulty, the ratio XP / mobs health on Expert is very bad compared to Hard or Master.
Before starting to fight for XP, choose a pet to follow you. He will gather gold for you, making you earn a bit of time. Then choose a follower, take his weapon, and equip it. Followers got stronger weapon than you at level 1. Scoundrel gives a crossbow, Templar gives a spear and Enchanteress gives a dagger.
If you got some shards from the challenge rift, you can spend them on Kadala at level 1. You can get some items available between level 5 and 15. You will not wear them but put in cube ( again thanks to the materials from challenge rift ). It's very interesting for a Barbarian who can gamble for Bracers and get Bracers of Destruction or Bracers of the First Men.

III. Finally ready to start

Check bounties on act 2 and see if killing Zoltun Kulle is a bounty. If not, check Maghda. If not, relaunch the party for a new game.
Go kill the bounty's boss after avoiding mobs on your path ( if it's Maghda; there's no mobs on your way to Zoltun Kulle ). You will get a chest with yellow items and your first levels.
After this, you can start to do rifts. Your general strategy would be to skip very low density zone and to rush the group of mobs, using AoE skills or DoTs to maximize your damage. To add some burst phases during your first levels up, try to be in the middle of a pack just before leveling up. Your character will blast all mobs around during his level up, dealing serious damages considering your level.

IV. Equipment

When you close a rift, you got 30 seconds to check which item is an upgrade, equip it and salvage other items. What you're looking for is better damage first, then better toughness. When you feel your weapon is too low for your level, try to craft a new one, a two-handed ( Axe, Sword or Mace ). You can eventually craft an offhand if you already got a godlike 1-handed weapon ( only source, mojo and phylactery got enough value to be crafted ). Don't waste materials on blacksmith except for those items. Remember that yellow crafted items can be given to your mates. Share your loots and crafts if necessary. Stats you want to see on weapons are simply high range damage and high main stats ( Dex, Str, Int ). Another very valuable affix is the slot. As you don't have a lot of critical chance on early game, put a ruby inside your weapon. The flat bonus damage is a huge improvement.
When you reach level 10, you can go to merchants ( the ones named "Radek the Fence" act 1, "Silmak the Fence" act2, "Litton the Fence" act 3-4 and "Ruthis the Fence" act5 ) to buy rings and amulet. Best ones are with flat bonus damages affix, then main stat. Repeat this process each time your level is around 10 higher than your jewelry.
Special tip for season 15 : as we got double caches reward this season, finishing the act 2 bounties sounds good for more materials and some plans ( Cain's set and Born's set for XP bonus. Remember that XP % and XP amount bonuses are shared with group. Everyo XP item is valuable. Depending of your strength, you can split into 2 groups of 2 players or keeping grouped to do those bounties.
Going to the map The Ruins of Sesheron, act 3, to take the cube is an option and even a necessary action if you got legendary to use on cube. You got to do this anyway later, so even if it's a short lost of time to reach the level 70, it's some time earned for the next part of the rush.
Early enough during your run, you can launch the campaign mode and rush the story until killing the Skeleton King. Starting from level 5, he will give you a Leoric's Crown, allways sloted. Put a ruby inside and wear it as long as you don't have a better helm with a slot. Once you drop a better sloted helm, consider puting Leoric's Crown on cube and keep your ruby in the new helm.
Keep you ruby at highest level able inside your weapon and Leoric's Crown. That's the only gems you need to upgrade. Upgrading other gems would be lost time.

V. Grinding

Continue to do rift in Hard difficulty. When it's very easy, go to Master difficulty or even higher. When difficulty becomes too hard, go back to Master or even Hard mode.
Each time you reach around 400 blood shards, spend them during the rift closing time on your worst part of stuff ( excluding XP items ). Don't wait to reach your blood shards cap to spend them as you can find a blood goblin and you will lose time by going back to town and spending shards out of the rift closing time.
Once you reach level 40, it's time to get your level 70 weapon.

VI. Carrying a level 70 weapon

You're level 40. Upgrade all your artisans to level 12. Craft 5 two-handed weapons level 70. If none of them are good, repeat the process. Don't lose time by crafting weapon 1 by 1. If you got several good weapons at the same time, they will probably not be lost. The important affixes you want in addition to the usual good damage and main stat are secondary affixes. Best one would be a high level required reduction. If you don't get one, you wanna see a crowd control effect % ( freeze, fear, ... ). If you got this secondary affix, go to the Mystic, and roll the other secondary. This way, you will have a lot higher chance to get level required reduction. Highest roll is 30 levels required reduction. If you get at least 20, it's good enough. If after some affixes rerolling you don't got it, take another good weapon or craft new ones. Crafting a weapon will cost 1000 gold and rolling several times the same item will cost you several hundreds thousands gold. Depending on how rich you are, stop rolling the same item after 4, 5 or 6 rolls. Again, think about sharing non used good weapons with your mates.
Go back to the rift grinding. Once you reach the level required to carry your weapon, you should be ready to play at a higher level. Low torment levels will be yours. Then continue the grinding and your stuff upgrade until the level 70. Adapt the difficulty level as usual, if it's too easy or too hard.

VII. I'm level 70 ! And now ?

Congratulations. You're level 70. Now, you're carrying mostly yellow items, maybe some low legendaries. You got to complete the 4 first chapters of the journey to get your Haedrig's gifts. D3resource gives a good summary of tasks to do here and you can keep the track of what you already achieved.

Chapter 1 requires only things that you should have done during your level up except 2 bosses that you can kill on any difficulty level.

Chapter 2 requires several things already done too. You got to do 2 more bosses in hard, very easy. Then equip one follower with random items. Remember that you can take your own jewelry and weapon to temporaly equip it. If you don't have a Templar Relic or an Enchantress Focus or a Scoundrel Token, just craft one. Then, you got to do some craft, enchant and transmogrify. Crafting and rolling a 70 weapon should have already given you this part. Just complete what is missing. Now you should get your 2 first set items from Haedrig's gift on bottom left of your screen.

For chapter 3, you got to buy something from Kadala, that should be already done. You got to complete the bounties on each act. Do it by splitting your team on the 4 first acts, then split together on act 5, on a low difficulty level enough to be fast. You got again to do 2 more bosses. Check the summary to complete needed task. Now you should get your 2 next set items from Haedrig's gift on bottom left of your screen.

For chapter 4, you got to kill all the keywarden in Torment 4. Do it together safely and follow the purple arrow to find keywarden on each act ( you got a key icon on each act's map to show you where to go ). You got again to do 2 more bosses. If this part is still missing, you got to learn 5 jewelcrafter designs and 5 blackmisth recipes. The bounties would provide you some plans, so recipes would be easy. If you're missing some designs and you got a lot of money, you can learn from Squirt the Peddler 3 designs ( the 2 Hellfire Rings and the Hellfire Amulet ), else do more normal rifts. Complete missing tasks from the summary. GR 20 would be more or less hard to achieve depending on your class. Adapt your build according to your 4 pieces set and the legendaries you already dropped.
You can use those builds as a base for your GR20 :

Once this be done, you finaly got your full set.

VIII. What to do in a nutshell

  • create your seasonal character
  • doing the challenge rift
  • spending your shards ( optional )
  • adventure mode, hard difficulty
  • equiping a pet and a follower weapon
  • killing either Zoltun Kulle, either Maghda, take the chest content
  • go for the cube ( optional )
  • do the campaign until the Skeleton King to get a Leoric's Crown ( optional )
  • starting from level 10, buy jewelry
  • do whole bounties from one act ( optional )
  • do rift in most adapted difficulty mode until level 40
  • craft a level 70 2-handed weapon with Level Requirement Reduced
  • do rift in most adapted difficulty mode until level 70
  • do the complete bounties of each act
  • do a GR 20
  • complete the missing parts of 4 first chapters of the journey
  • boost slacking people or random dying mates

IX. Special tips for solo

Most of the parts for multiplayer is valid for solo.
Main difference would be in the grinding. You would earn efficiency by keeping a massacre bonus ( a multiplicator of your xp after killing specific amount of mobs in a row ). This bonus is not available in rift so you would go on best density maps on adventure, all in act 1 : The Cathedral, Halls of Agony and Fields of Misery. Avoid to do a whole act of bounty as it's long in solo. Like in group, some classes are better than others. In solo the gap would be even bigger. So unless you want to play a specific class, you should consider playing Demon Hunter or Witch Doctor.

Conclusion

It's good to start with a goal as a motivation and a challenge. But you got to keep in mind that the time used to start is not a big deal compared to the length of the entire season. On the other hand, season's begin is a good moment to share with your mates, making a tedious part of game becoming something more enjoyable.