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Unless I've missed a Horadric Cube recipe, low end runes can only be upgraded to Ort, and Ort cannot be upgraded.

Clearly storing runes and gems is a major challenge, is it wise to upgrade all the lower runes into Ort runes? Are they used often enough to be useful?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

It depends, are you playing on the ladder?

There are a few ladder only rune words, such as Spirit that uses common runes (Spirit is TalThulOrtAmn).

In those cases, it helps to keep those lower runes without cubing them.

Also, there are recipes that allow crafting that uses specific runes, and good crafted rings/amulets are in high demand.

Finally, you can cube Ort into higher runes, at that point you just need to find the proper gem to go with it. This was put in as of patch 1.10.

With enough runes and gems, you can now cube El runes into Zod if you wish.

The lowest level of runes I'd actually start keeping is Ist (Ists are always useful due to its magic find bonus)

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I am playing ladder, thanks for the corrections and update. –  Tharius Sep 7 '11 at 12:56
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A note about this - many of the valuable runewords require one or more of the lower runes. I'd recommend keeping one around (even if it's on a mule character), just so that you don't have to be the person offering whatever junk you have on hand for an El or Tal. –  Ian Pugsley Sep 7 '11 at 13:22
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From the recipe page: "A handy way to remember which gems are required for the upgrades past Ort is by using the acronym TASRED. As in, 'Don't taze me, Bro!'" lol. –  Nick T Sep 7 '11 at 17:25
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