Magic Find and Farming in Diablo 3

Magic Find is an extremely important game mechanic that many people, especially beginners, often overlook. Your success in Diablo 3 is a combination of two factors: your build and your items. Since you no longer have to worry about rolling a whole new character every time you want to use a different skill (like in Diablo 2), the items you use are the only truly variable element of your character. So, finding the best ones is extremely important.

What’s a farm?

So how do you find the best items? Well, the easiest way is to “farm,” a term for running the same route through the game over and over. Sound boring? It is! Well, it can be, until you find an item that makes it worth your while.

To maximize the chance of finding an item, you will want to invest in gear with +Magic Find% (MF). Bear in mind that this will often lower your characters other abilities, such as DPS and Protection, so plan accordingly. Make sure that the areas you are farming aren’t so difficult that you can barely kill a single monster. Although you have better chance to get a magic item when you do get a loot instance(LI), you are not getting enough LIs to make this route worth your while.

Item based MF

The best MF available on Rings, Armor, and Off-Hand items is 20%. The best MF available on an Amulet is 45%. Weapons generally can not spawn with MF, with the exception of a few legendary items. They are as follows: Wirt’s Original Leg, The Gidbinn (WD only), Blade of Prophecy, The Executioner, Sun Keeper, Won Khim Lau (Monk only), Manajuma’s Ritual Cutter, and The Grand Vizier.

Nephalem Valor

An extremely important thing to consider if you are serious about MF. Nephalem Valor is a buff that kicks in at level 60. Every time you kill an elite pack of monsters, you will receive 1 “stack” of Nephalem Valor, which adds 15%MF and Gold Find. You can get up to 5 stacks in any given game, but if you switch skills or leave the game, the buff disappears. The buff will remain active for 30 minutes after you kill the last champion pack.

Maximum Possible MF in Diablo 3: 435%?

The maximum MF possible for a character is 435%. 51 on a helm (20% base MF socketed with a Radiant Star Topaz 31%), 45 on an amulet, 20 on shoulders, chest, shield, gloves, belt, rings x 2, pants, and boots. You can get 35%MF on a 1-handed WD weapon, Manajuma’s Ritual Cutter.  Bear in mind that you also get 20% of your followers MF, which could add an additional 24% MF. You can also hit a fortune shrine for an extra 25%. Add in 5 stacks of NV, 416% total MF!

Efficiency of your Farming Route

One easy way to tell if a given route is better or worse than another is to simply count the number of blue items you get in a certain time frame. Get out a timer and see how long a certain run takes you, and count the gold/number of items you accumulate during it. Compare this to other routes, and voila! Science!


Another important thing to consider is the quality of the items that are dropping. To measure “quality” we look at the item tier. This information is unfortunately not readily available unless you are willing to do some digging. Well, guess what folks. I dug. I will be writing an article dedicated to item tiers in the next few days.

According to the official strategy guide, there are 16 tiers* of gear. I’m going to put an * every time I refer to this, because I have found many errors in this guide and if something I say is wrong because of that, take it up with Bradygames. Each item that you pick up belongs to a certain “tier” of gear. I will be compiling a full list of items and tiers for your edification within the next few days.

The important thing that you should keep in mind for now is that the highest tier gear can only drop in Act3/4 of Inferno. Farming other areas will not result in the same quality gear as that area.

Group Magic Find

Magic Find is averaged throughout your party. For this reason, joining public games to magic find makes almost no sense. Not only do you run the risk of getting hacked, but your MF is most likely dampened by the other people in your party. As boring as it is, I would recommend farming by yourself.

TL;DR Phase 1: Acquire MF gear Phase 2: Find a route in Inferno Act3/4 Phase 3: Profit!


2 thoughts on “Magic Find and Farming in Diablo 3

  1. You forgot a quite important thing about how valor stacks work. They have a hidden effect on boss drops, much much higher then the apparent MF. They dramatically multiply boss total drops. Any super unique(skele king) or act bosses will drop 7 blues and 2 rares every time, quite often more then that.

    This is the key reason why short runs against a boss without doing any stacks first really isn’t the best way to get high tier items. Sometimes these runes give equal gold returns though.

    • I have heard this as well, but couldn’t find any official statistics on how it affected drop rates so I didn’t include it in the post. Do you have a reliable source for this information?

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