Act Two, Valley of Snakes. Wow, huh? Where to begin... This setting is new. Similar to other desert scenes from Act Two, but Blizzard North announced this one as taking place in the Valley of the Snakes, so even though there aren't any visible snakes, or valley for that matter, we'll go with it. A few misc things first: Notice the huge demons carved right out of the rock on each side of the doorway. If that's not a warning about what awaits inside the doorway, what is. The glowing blue thing in the lower left corner is a Town Portal. New graphics there, obviously. The two head shot icons on the top left are for the Necromancer (played by Peter Hu) and the Amazon (played by Eric Sexton), showing that they are all friends, and that the Barbarian (Mike Huang) took this shot, even while in mid-leap.
The Barbarian's icon is a new one. Offensive Jump, and though it's never been seen before, pretty easy to figure it out. Note that the Barbarian is not really in the middle of the screen here. He's closer to the top, since he's in mid-air. Looks to be landing on the chain of skeletons the Amazon is battling.
The Amazon is in the middle of the shot, dealing with a horde of skeletons. She is using Lightning Strike, or possibly Charged Strike. Both are more powerful versions of Power Strike, which adds a small square of lightning to her damage. The other two add a longer and more powerful blast of lighting, capable of hitting multiple monsters at once. All of the monsters on the screen have a small glowing star over their shoulders, courtesy of the Amazon's Eye of Zeus skill, which she used at some time before this shot was taken. This makes the monsters easier to see, especially in a dark area, and might cause them some weakening as well.
The Necromancer, in his full bone plate, with orbiting protection courtesy of his Bone Armor skill, is standing unassailed towards the top middle of the shot, looking to the right. His Clay Golem can be seen in the bottom middle, next to the Amazon. The golem is taking on two of the Burning Dead warriors, and is either very stupid, or this shot was taken right as he happened to look motionless in the midst of his attacking animation. Now we get to the tricky stuff:
There are five skeletons summoned by the Necromancer here, all of them Bone Mages. We had not seen or heard that a Necromancer could summon spell-casting skeletons before, but it's not much of stretch to believe it, especially with such good evidence as this. What spell summoned them? Unknown. There are three different types here, casting Poison, Lightning, and Cold, so possibly three different skills, or maybe just one with a selection of magic type, or possibly it's completely random. All are wearing orange shoulder pads as armour, have matching horns, and are pretty much identical to how they appeared as monsters in this shot, except that all of those appear to be using Cold Arrow, while only one of these is (the one to the far right.) The other three that are easily visible seem to be casting some sort of lightning spell, based on their crackling hands. The fifth Bone Mage is to the top left, mostly hidden behind the big green burst, and it has just fired a poison spell into the Burning Dead in front of it, hence the big green splash. At the same time a Burning Dead archer has hit it in the back with a Fire Arrow (you can see one in flight just above the gauntlet), so the green and red explosions are sort of overlapping.
Other things in this shot include the messy splatters of blood and bone. These are either residue from Corpse Explosion, or possibly the summoning skill has had a very messy animation added to it. The animation for corpse explosion is the same no matter what you blow up. So blowing up a dead skeleton produces the same messy mess as as a Fallen or a Corrupted Rogue. -- 3d-enhanced shot, 9/99. This shot was voted by readers as the Best SsotW of all time.
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