Ask Myriam – Diablo 3 2.3: Efficient XP & Materials Gathering

One question that often comes up for Diablo 3 is what is the most efficient method for gathering materials for the in-game crafting system?

Another discussion often revolves around what are the advantages of the various post-level 70 end-game adventure mode activities.

The following article will address these questions as well as provide the data analysis underlying its conclusions.

Many of these will seem like common sense or what players are already doing, however a quick look in-game shows T10 the Rift & Bounty difficulty of choice (they can’t all be missing a RRoG can they?) and Speed Greater Rift groups are routinely doing 10 minute XP runs, refusing to drop down lower for faster runs. I wanted to know if they knew something I didn’t, and if there was a difference in efficiency, what was it? For these players, the data section and the analysis I have provided will be the most helpful.

Last Updated: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015

Efficient Material Gathering

Note: Except in rare circumstances, doing end-game activities in a group will yield better results, potentially increasing in-game rewards by up to 50%, relative to the size of the player group.

Experience / Paragon
  • Speed Greater Rifts under 5 mins (gr45+)
  • Speed Rifts under 5 mins (t8+, close rift after RG kill)
Forgotten Souls
  • Speed Greater Rifts under 5 mins (gr45+)
  • Speed Rifts under 5 mins (t8+, close after rg)
Death’s Breaths
  • Rush Elites in Rifts under 5 mins (t8+, close on rg) with Sage Set
Cube / Act Materials
  • Bounties (t7 only)
Blood Shards
  • Speed Greater Rifts under 5 mins (gr45+)
Higher Blood Shard Cap
  • Highest Clearable Greater Rift (on new solo records)
Yellow, Blue, White Materials
  • Battlefield of Eternity / Campaign Mode: Act 5 – Templar quest, transmute White to Blue / Yellow in cube.
Organs for Hellfire Amulets / Rings
  • Keywardens [Machinewardens] (t8+) and Infernal Machines (t10 only)
  • Treasure Vault (t10)
  • Speed Greater Rifts under 5 mins (gr45+)
  • Speed Rifts under 5 mins (t8+, close on rg)


Advice for maximum efficiency

Highest Clearable Greater Rifts
  • Raise your Blood Shard cap by clearing higher solo Greater Rifts.
  • Best (especially groups) for upgrading Legendary Gems.
  • Beat your friends (or group up with them and take on your region) on the in-game competitive leaderboards.
Speed Greater Rifts
  • Best for gathering Experience / Paragon, Forgotten Souls, Blood Shards.
  • Get new Legendary Gems or quickly upgrade low level ones.
  • Equip a Ruby in your helm, and cube or equip Leoric’s Crown for XP.
  • If you cannot clear a Greater Rift 45 in under 5 mins, run Rifts you can do under 5 mins, with efficiencies at T8 / T6 / T1.
  • Check in-game Chat Communities to help find a group.
  • Collecting yellow experience pools ahead of time or between runs can be worth it. If you die often, or search too long, you will lose a lot of the benefit. See Reddit discussion on easy pool locations.
Speed Rifts
  • Best for Death’s Breaths and Greater Rift Keystones.
  • If low on Death’s Breaths use the Sage Set and hunt for Elite packs only.
  • If low on Greater Rift Keystones, maximize your movement and clear speed to reach as close to 2 1/2 minute clears for maximum Keys.
  • At peak efficiency, you must run an equal number of Rifts to Greater Rifts. Running Rifts is always productive because of one+ Key per run.
  • Closing immediately after Rift Guardian is the best option, no contest.
  • Collecting yellow items is near worthless, instead pick up White / Grey items equally. Blues come in distant third. Use the cube to create yellow and blue materials from whites.
  • When you have all the gems you need, stop picking them up for a speed increase in your runs. Keep picking up Death’s Breaths and whites however, you will be short on those eventually.
  • Best for Cube / Act materials, Blacksmith & Jeweler recipes; and, second best to the Vault, gems.
  • The key to fast Bounties is focus on the objective. Skip all trash and elites you can, run through everything until the goal.
  • To go even faster, in a group split up with one person on each Bounty. Solo the boses with others declining.
  • Run only Torment 7. Cube materials cap in T7 with 8 mats (4 cache + 4 bonus cache) per act. There is no significant advantage to running higher, even when taking into account rewards for higher Torment.
Battlefield of Eternity / Campaign Mode: Act 5 – Templar quest
  • By far the best source of White, Blue and Yellow materials.
  • Use the cube to turn all the White into Blue and Yellow.
  • Torment / Difficulty does not matter, you are looting armour stands.
  • Campaign Mode is ideal because there are no mobs. If seasonal you can clear Battlefield of Eternity waypoint in Act 5. (source)
  • Whites salvage to 8-10 materials, Blues to 2-4 and Yellows to 1. Converting 100 to another costs a small amount of gold for a Blue / Yellow at a vendor and 1 Death Breath. That makes the cost of converting 1000 Whites to 1000 Yellows just 10 Death Breaths (1/3 of a rift) and gold change. Just do it.
Keywardens [Machinewardens] and Infernal Machines
  • Allows you to craft the coveted Hellfire Amulet (str, dex, int).
  • Check in-game Chat Communities to help find a group.
  • When farming Keywardens in a group, stay together in the same map at all times. Keywardens are now like goblins, not there, no loot. It is no longer global.
  • Depending on your build and class, it may be more efficient to farm Keywardens solo. (source)
  • If you have difficulty farming Keywardens, you can always lower the Torment (and the droprate of machines). Just ensure you open the machines in T10 for 2-3 organs per event.
Treasure Vault
  • To collect gems rather quickly, cube a Puzzle Ring to open a Treasure Vault in T10.
  • Cube or equip a Broken Crown for double gem drops.
  • Ask in chat for help if you are not T10 capable. Repeat.

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you have any comments or feedback, I encourage you to send me an email at

If you found the preceding guide useful, please consider paying the suggested price of $1.00. I did extensive in-game research for this guide, your support will help me further develop the guide and create new projects.

The Data

What follows is an in depth analysis of the data I used to arrive at the conclusions above. A lot of this knowledge may have come to many players by feel and experience, but for me at least it was really nice to have the data to back up these claims. Only read on if you are wondering why I stated something above.

Specifically for this article, I spent 23 in-run hours collecting data. That isn’t sitting in town, AFK, forming groups or typing up and analysing the data. The is 23 straight hours of monster killing in greater rifts, rifts and bounties amongst other things. If you average a rift at 5 minutes that is 276 consecutive rifts. I would take a screenshot before each run, recording the time, XP and bloodshards with a clean inventory, record every goblin kill and type along the way, and another screenshot with time after salvaging white, blue, yellows and quest handins after the run. During these two weeks of play I did not increase my paragon level allocation, nor did I swap out gear for improvements. I did run task appropriate builds and gear, using sage-set death’s breath gear, speedrun gear, pushing gear as appropriate. I ran the tests solo and in groups of four. I ran the tests on patch 2.3 seasons with all the new changes and also last patch 2.2 non-seasons. I tried to be as consistent in my play style as possible. This is as much as I could control.

Even with all this effort, it became clear that in bounties and regular rifts goblins will highly modify your data. Unless you run a specific task with a specific set of gear (say, t8 kill/close rifts) thousands of times, enough to get many goblin packs per task, then which goblins you get during your runs will skew your data. But you can’t discount them either, goblins make running bounties and regular rifts more rewarding then they usually would be. In my data, significant goblins (blood, splitters, legendaries, mats, gems) spawn at a rate of slightly higher than 5 per hour. Regular goblins are equivalent to an extra elite pack, and gold goblins aren’t even worth registering in the current patch with gold devaluation. It didn’t matter if you ran bounties or rifts, or if you closed on rg or cleared to the end. I’ve tried to account for goblins in the best ways I could in the data bellow.

For XP and paragon grinding, you need 10,311,327,480,000 cumulative experience to reach Paragon 1000, a baseline for being competitive on the leaderboards. 4-man unorganized group grifts at a baseline of gr55 netted me 45.5 bil-xp/h (~227h to P1k). Compare that to group t8 rifts at 7.3 bil-xp/h (~1413h). Solo play was hurt the most by the lack of teammates, with solo 10 mins gr55 at 33.3 bil-xp/h (~310h), and 5 mins t8 rifts at 5.5 bil-xp/h (~1875h). Solo 9 mins per act t7 bounties clocked 5.1 bil-xp/h. I should note I can only solo clear GR60 atm, and if I want sortof efficient 6 mins runs I need to go down to solo GR50 at 36.6 bil-xp/h (~282h). Notice that running faster, but lower greater rifts yields more experience. At my gear level however I can run 6 minute GR60 with 3 other similarly geared players for 53 bil-xp/h (~195h). Unless with an exceptional group however group gr65 are a barely-passing 15 mins grind based on the rift 41.2 bil-xp/h (~250h). So grouping up for Greater Rifts for XP is an even bigger win, but you will have to find a balance you are comfortable with. At the time of writing this article, Paragon 1200 teams are speed farming Greater Rift 66 while clearing Greater Rift 82. It should be noted that they often still farm keys in T8 rifts. If you need to phish for specific mobs, you’re running too high for farming XP.


  • 4-man unorganized GR55: 45.5 bil-xp/h (~227h to P1k)
  • Solo 10 mins GR55: 33.3 bil-xp/h (~310h)
  • Group T8 rifts: 7.3 bil-xp/h (~1413h)
  • Solo 5 mins T8 rifts: 5.5 bil-xp/h (~1875h)
  • Solo Bounties 9 mins per act T7: 5.1 bil-xp/h (~2000h)
  • Solo GR50 at 36.6 bil-xp/h (~282h)
  • 6 minute GR60 with 3 other similarly geared players: 53 bil-xp/h (~195h)
  • GR65 barely-passing 15 mins: 41.2 bil-xp/h (~250h)

The highest greater rift you (or your team) can run under 5 minutes will likely win. It may be tempting to drop down to extremely low greater rift levels to get close to that 2 minute lightning runs that will see a great increase in bloodshards, however the loss in experience may not seem worth it. The difference for me running 5 mins solo gr45s at 2951 bloodshards/h to 6 mins solo gr50s at 2760 bloodshards/h is just 7% loss of bloodshards. The XP loss of the switch is 26% however. You can safely extrapolate these numbers to group play as well. Again, you will have to find a balance between bloodshards and XP. It’s also worth noting that with the introduction of Kanai’s cube, bloodshards are no longer the best way to upgrade your gear to Best in Slot. Once you have the right items in each slot, you may find you’re just gambling shards for extra mats, relying instead on Rare Upgrades and Rerolls to improve your gear, where you will be limited by Forgotten Souls instead.

Death’s Breath
Death’s breath have become useful again with the Kanai’s Cube upgrade Rare recipe, especially for getting those ancient weapons, or specific Rings and Amulets. That means equipping the Sage set if you can and running T8 Rifts. I compared 8 1/2 min T10 and 5 1/2 min T8 runs and found that I get about the same number of Death Breaths per hour in each, about 300/h with a sage build. I even got more legendaries in T10. But this is not where you should be looking at legendaries, xp or bloodshards. Because for that, Greater Rifts eclipses both of them by far. It’s for this reason that I recommend optimizing for Greater Rift Keystones even when collecting Death Breath, which means running T8. It would be unwise to look at a specific reward for these activities, even if you currently have an abundance in one material, you will be short eventually. Because it’s not time efficient to stop and kill Elites when doing Bounties, the return for Death Breaths in bounties is terrible and can’t be relied on.

Forgotten Souls
Forgotten Souls are needed to reroll an item in Kanai’s Cube (10% chance to be ancient), and you need 50 of them. You’ll get them by salvaging all the worthless legendaries when running greater rifts, rifts and bounties. That said my ~6 mins Greater Rift runs were getting me about 40 souls/h (without counting bloodshards!) and rifts were about 30-35 souls/hour (t10 is the higher range but again you lose keys to run the better grift vs t8)

Greater Rift Keys
Greater Rift Keys are one (rarely 2) per rift guardian kill above T1. So just run whatever is fastest (think 5-6 mins max) for you while also giving you death breaths that you’ll constantly need. I was getting about 14 keys/h doing T8 Kill/Close Rifts in my sage set collecting Death Breaths and only killing elites. If you are above Para 1000 you may feel like you will never need the breaths anymore, just run whatever you can do 2 mins runs of, likely speed t8 for keys only.

Whites, Blues and Yellows
Whites, Blues and Yellows are something you will need of as much as Forgotten Souls. All activities give you them, with T7 bounties giving a ton because caches and bonus caches contain them. I clocked 1386 wby/h (all combined) doing T7 bounties (the highest difficulty needed to get 4 cube mats per cache for Kanai’s reroll recipe). Since yellows only salvage to a single mat and you can use the cube to change any of them to any other, it no longer makes sense to pick up yellows, especially if that means you’ll have to port back to base to salvage during a run, about the worst thing you can do. In fact, going into solo and running the Battlefield of Eternity waypoint just for the whites will netted me ~2300 wby/h, almost double T7 bounties.

Cube mats
Cube mats max out in T7 at 4 cube mats per cache, for me meaning at T7 I get 60 cube mats/h. In T8 I would get a bit more experience and wby, but since I’m speeding past all the elites, only killing the trash as required by the quest, going up in difficulty would likely not only slow down collection but would mean I kill less things passively as I fly through the acts. So T8 or T10 is out for this. Really you should only be running bounties as needed for cube mats to reroll items and extract legendary powers.

If you’re short on gems, vaults are a quick way to get a lot of them, T10 vault in a party getting me about 1930 gems/h. Contrast that to bounties at 387 gems/h (from caches mostly) and T8 rifts at 60 gems/h. So use up those puzzle rings in a group and grab some friends. There’s also often people advertising vault runs in a few communities where you can piggy back on someone else’s puzzle rings. After that bounties are a great source of gems because they are contained in caches. Once you’ve maxed your gems, they become rather useless so stop picking them up, it will speed up your runs and leave more inventory for other salvage. In fact in my personal play I no longer kill gem goblins anymore.

The only thing that group play affected in a significant way was XP and bloodshards. Most other things were the same whether solo or in groups. Groups were often slightly worse for mat collection because forming groups and down time between runs was often greater than solo. It was also more fun with people, and XP is about the most valuable thing you can collect in the game, so there’s that.

Kill/Close vs Clear Until End
So what about the great Rift kill/close vs clear until end debate? My findings that they are the same for xp (5.5-5.9 bil-xp/h) and legendaries (22-24 souls/h), with deaths breaths are only 9% worse in k/c (303/h vs 331/h). This is made up for by the fact that in every other category, k/c is almost double cte. Bloodshards (1341/h vs 755/h), gems (99/h vs 54/h), wby mats (549/h vs 424/h). Even then you may not be convinced, but k/c is double the Greater Rift Keys as well (14/h vs 7/h), and as you saw above, Greater Rifts are really where you want to be spending the most of your time. Even with Death Breaths being more valuable this patch, I think even if you are short on Death Breaths, you will want to do Kill/Close to maximize your overall playing time in the long term, since doing otherwise would handicap you in all other areas of the game. Since goblins appeared equally in both sets I decided to omit them for this comparison, so you can expect your actual yield numbers to be higher once you factor them back in.