I'm up to Act III Hell and some of the elite packs are just plain obnoxious. Two packs last night had fire-chains, traps and those laser beams I think I died about 30 times!
On the crafting tip, is it worth the expense to level it as you quest, or just skill it up when you hit max level? I've plowed a bit into Blacksmithing but I could spend more, and I've ignored Jewelcrafting so far.
Oh also, my Barbarian is infinitely more fun now that I have Vitality / Resist All gear and a big fat shield. All my runes are healing and stuns and I spec'd the ability that gives you no-fury-cost moves when you are below 20% health ( = free life giving Revenges) means I can tank all day long. I watched team mates die countless times while I held ridiculously large packs in check, hovering on almost no health but never dying!
Level it up as you quest it helps ya with gear when you're down on your luck. It's not wow, you need to level them
Both you hardly train for jewel crafting while blacksmithing requires a bit more training. Different strategies for all champs die many times anyways. I'm doing the shield deal and revenues but no reduced damage below 20% cause need the 3% life steal for rend. Fights take longer but I last forever.
Jewelcrafting is totally worth it, if for nothing else but socketing weapons (more than that obviously, but that one's huge). Putting a high-level red gem into a weapon with a slot is a massive damage boost, and those gems just don't drop (that I've seen yet).
That sucks Curtis. I've got tons of gems lol stash is full of them, mostly high level gems. I agree with you on the damage. I also have to add if you have a hard time getting drops in hell just get to level 60, kill 5 champion groups or elites and stack nephalem valor. Bam 75% magic find and gold find as well as double drops off bosses. Really helpful if you need gear to get passed some boss or something. With a few MF items and 5 stacks I've seen rares every 10-30 creeps and decent blue drops at least once a fight.
You can get plans for jewelcrafting and blacksmithing so maybe there's a badass combo gem in there should you find it. I've got hundreds of pages for jewelcrafting and tomes. More should drop than you need.