Brother Laz Explains What’s Wrong with Diablo III’s Legendaries

With most fans expressing dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of legendary and set items in Diablo III, I thought it would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone who, unlike any current Blizzard employees, has actually designed full suites of Set and Unique items for Diablo II. No, not Erich Schaefer, but a mod maker and author of our one-time column, Dead Fish.

Brother Laz created the Median XL mod, and while updating it over the years he created thousands of unique and set items, and was always in direct contact with the players, learning exactly what they liked and didn’t like, and used and didn’t use. Laz is also an analytical and clever guy, and writes entertaining columns, so long as you like sarcasm and aren’t the one he’s pointing his barbs at.

True to my hopes, Laz had plenty of observations on where the Diablo III legendaries went wrong, and he’s got a whole three-category ranking system for types of unique items and the players that they appeal to. By his measurement, Diablo III’s only hit one of those types. I’m overcomplicating things in this summary, so check out the following quote and then click through to read the whole article. I guarantee it will give you a new way to think about unique items and will make very clear why they are so lackluster, as currently presented in Diablo III.

The Spike – Plays to win, no matter what it takes or how boring the path to victory may be. This is the guy who is perfectly fine with the fact that his D3 wizard wields an axe and his D2 sorc wears a green potato bag on her head. This is the dickwad who picks Tryndamere in 3v3 blind pick and after banging your *** for 20 minutes goes GG EASY NOOOBS in all chat.

The Johnny – Sees games as a means of self-expression. This is the guy who builds a Molten Boulder druid, intentionally wears tier 2 paladin gear in WoW when not actively fighting and picks Orianna. Usually he gets trampled by Spike but sometimes it works and then he feels great.

The Timmy – Likes big stuff. Uses the rocket launcher because it makes big explosions. Goes all offense in every build because it makes big damage numbers. Picks Garen and screams DEMACIAAA every time he spins2win from the bush. Plays for fun where fun is defined as smashing stuff but is not willing to get bored out of his skull to maximise his success rate.

Diablo 2’s uniques appeal to each of these groups, whereas Diablo 3’s legendaries (aside from being the victim of a typical Blizzard overnerf) are boring and therefore only appeal to Spikes. In fact, between legendaries being the equivalent of a Mercedes SL350 Blue Efficiency in terms of passion stirred up and the lack of fun and viable wizard spells not named after the company or a Starcraft unit and similar problems for other classes, Diablo 3 seems to appeal only to Spike players.

Click through for the full guest article, which includes illustrative items of all three types, plus fix-it proscriptions for Diablo III going forward.

Uniques, monkeys and typewriters

Uniques. Or legendaries for you whippersnappers. The whole reason anyone played Diablo II, other than the potential to make imbalanced overpowered builds, was the potential to find imbalanced overpowered uniques.

So naturally the community complained that uniques were too powerful and everything was better during those golden days before LoD when rares were the best items, by which they meant rares were the best items if you played the best class (barb) and sorcs were restricted to very specific uniques and sets with +skills and FCR on them, and by community I mean the few people above 10 years of age who actually cared about balance instead of jerking off at their EZ BOT’D EBOTDZ.

Anyway, from a game design point of view making rares the best makes total sense. They are Random and this is a game built on Randomness so if we put more Randomness into your Random then you can farm while you farm and enjoy the gift of Randomness. Plus, Enigma was overpowered.


Time to confess: I was one of those hippies too. My Diablo 2 mod Median XL (you may have heard of it, perhaps when it became #3 Overall Mod of the Year at ModDB or from that interview with the Blizzard employee who admitted to playing MXL instead of working on inferno class balance [based on a true story]) started out highly idealistic and with no uniques at all because rares were meant to be the best.

The overwhelming community response was that there was no community because shockingly noone wanted to play the mod. In a strange coincidence, the popularity of the mod increased linearly with the power of the characters, compensated by an arms race on the part of the monsters. Enter a bunch of uniques. Enter sacred items, basically Diablo 2 elite items but only in uberlevels and with their own uniques. Enter a second set of sacred uniques. Today there is a broken OP unique for everyone and rares are useless. The community likes it that way and claims the item system is amazing.

Take that, yellowbugs.

Player Classifications

Why? If you ask a professional game designer (a guy who can use the word “conveyance” to describe progression) he will claim there are three types of players.

The Spike – Plays to win, no matter what it takes or how boring the path to victory may be. This is the guy who is perfectly fine with the fact that his D3 wizard wields an axe and his D2 sorc wears a green potato bag on her head. This is the dickwad who picks Tryndamere in 3v3 blind pick and after banging your *** for 20 minutes goes GG EASY NOOOBS in all chat.

The Johnny – Sees games as a means of self-expression. This is the guy who builds a Molten Boulder druid, intentionally wears tier 2 paladin gear in WoW when not actively fighting and picks Orianna. Usually he gets trampled by Spike but sometimes it works and then he feels great.

The Timmy – Likes big stuff. Uses the rocket launcher because it makes big explosions. Goes all offense in every build because it makes big damage numbers. Picks Garen and screams DEMACIAAA every time he spins2win from the bush. Plays for fun where fun is defined as smashing stuff but is not willing to get bored out of his skull to maximise his success rate.


Diablo 2’s uniques appeal to each of these groups, whereas Diablo 3’s legendaries (aside from being the victim of a typical Blizzard overnerf) are boring and therefore only appeal to Spikes. In fact, between legendaries being the equivalent of a Mercedes SL350 Blue Efficiency in terms of passion stirred up and the lack of fun and viable wizard spells not named after the company or a Starcraft unit and similar problems for other classes, Diablo 3 seems to appeal only to Spike players.

These are the people who first cleared inferno difficulty by skipping inferno difficulty because winning is what matters and not taking part in the actual game. Because there are no builds and therefore no real way to lose the game they get no satisfaction from making a good build in Diablo 3, so they are now playing the auction house. And they don’t actually give a damn about legendaries because they found some blue in a garbage bin behind whatever-is-his-name’s stand (how did I forget the name of this amazingly indepth NPC who contributes to the incredible storyline of Diablo 3) and it deals 6 more dps. Oops.

Johnny Items

Diablo 2:

DiabloWikiWitchwild String — Short Siege Bow

  • Two-Hand Damage: (32) to (75-81)
  • Required Level: 39
  • Required Strength: 65
  • Required Dexterity: 80
  • Bow Class – Normal Attack Speed
  • +150-170% Enhanced Damage
  • Fires Magic Arrows [Level 20]
  • 2% Chance To Cast Level 5 Amplify Damage On Striking
  • +1-99 % Deadly Strike (+1 Per Character Level)
  • All Resistances +40
  • Socketed (2)
  • Cool name, neat Amplify Damage proc and magic arrows and an alternate way to inflict damage and a big resist bonus. It is sort of viable, if you assume spending more than 2 seconds to kill a cow pack is viable in this game. This is one of the best designed uniques in D2 because it has a consistent theme without giving up usability and is good enough to spawn its own build. <3

    Median XL:

    Freakshow — Scythe (Sacred)

  • Two-Hand Damage: (675-727) to (1335-1407)
  • Durability: 74
  • Required Strength: 466
  • Required Dexterity: 466
  • Required Level: 100
  • +(10 to 12) to Necromancer Skill Levels
  • +(301 to 350)% Enhanced damage
  • Adds 250-750 damage
  • +(3 to 5)% to Spell Damage
  • +4 to Maximum Necromancer Minions
  • Random Resistance Bonus (-25 to +75, changes every 2 seconds)
  • 10% Reanimate as: Ratfink
  • 15% Reanimate as: Slain Soul
  • 15% Reanimate as: Slain Soul
  • Socketed: 6
  • I discovered pretty quickly that the only way to make “not the best” uniques popular was to make them crazy in some way. Usually it took the form of a chance to cast a weird skill or reanimate a cool monster. This proved so popular than 90% of the sacred unique weapons has a CtC of some kind, giving the player the satisfaction of flashy visuals that explode the screen and may even change gameplay in interesting ways.

    Diablo 3:

    None, unless their idea of a Johnny item is a legendary with a smattering of random stats and 2.1% chance to knock back.

    Timmy items

    Diablo 2:
    DiabloWikiWindforce — Hydra Bow

  • Two-Hand Damage: 35 to (241-547)
  • Required Level: 73
  • Required Strength: 135
  • Required Dexterity: 167
  • Bow Class – Slow Attack Speed
  • +250% Enhanced Damage
  • +3-309 To Maximum Damage (+3.125 Per Character Level)
  • 20% Increased Attack Speed
  • 6-8% Mana Stolen Per Hit
  • Heal Stamina Plus 30%
  • +10 To Strength
  • +5 To Dexterity
  • Knockback
  • Big bow, big damage, knockback for extra trololol power. Gets beaten by a few other items, notably every runeword melee weapon in the game but back in its day this was the brute power item. Diablo 2 has a number of these: generally every item you remember because it is LOL OP was a Timmy item.

    Median XL:

    Danmaku — Athulua’s Hand (Sacred)

  • Defense: (2666-3339)
  • Durability: 29
  • (Amazon Only)
  • Required Dexterity: 349
  • Required Level: 100
  • 10% Chance to cast level 15 Javelin Nova when you Kill an Enemy
  • 1% Chance to cast level 45 Fire Bolt Nova on Striking
  • 25% Chance to cast level 5 Javelin on Striking
  • +(2 to 3) to Amazon Skill Levels
  • 35% Increased Attack Speed
  • 25% Faster Block Rate
  • 1% Increased Chance of Blocking
  • Adds 50-100 damage
  • +(41 to 50)% to Fire Spell Damage
  • +(201 to 250)% Enhanced Defense
  • Socketed: 4
  • It’s a javazon shield with 25% chance to trigger a javelin that deals weapon-based damage and therefore has 25% chance to trigger another javelin which triggers a javelin and so on until the universe collapses. Also has 10% chance to shoot a lot of javelins on kill which trigger more javelins on hit. Javelins? Javelins. Javelins! Javelins javelins javelins. Javelins? Javelins!

    Diablo 3:
    Timmy appeal is greatly reduced by the lack of big numbers and spectacle. No one likes 1.9% chance to stun one target or +30% enhanced damage. That’s, like, totally, like, lame.

    Spike items

    Diablo 2

    DiabloWikiArreat’s Face — Slayer Guard

  • Defense: 302-363
  • Required Level: 42
  • Required Strength: 118
  • Durability: 55
  • (Barbarian Only)
  • +150-200% Enhanced Defense
  • 30% Faster Hit Recovery
  • 20% Bonus To Attack Rating
  • +2 To Barbarian Skill Levels
  • 3-6% Life Stolen Per Hit
  • All Resistances +30
  • +20 To Strength
  • +20 To Dexterity
  • +2 To Combat Skills (Barbarian Only)
  • I hope you noticed all of the pre-1.10 exceptional class uniques have essentially the same stats and shared the same property of being the best items in their slot until 1.10. Lovelessly designed through copy/paste and intentionally overpowered – the ultimate Spike item.

    Median XL:

    Scales of the Serpent — Gothic Plate (Sacred)

  • Defense: (7012-9696)
  • Durability: 99
  • Required Strength: 614
  • Required Level: 100
  • 15% Chance to cast level 40 Carpet of Spiders on Attack
  • 8% Chance to cast level 12 Time Strike on Striking
  • +150% Damage to Undead
  • Adds 400-600 poison damage over 2 seconds
  • -50% to Enemy Poison Resistance
  • 10% Chance of Crushing Blow
  • Enhanced Weapon Damage +(41 to 50)%
  • +(251 to 300)% Enhanced Defense
  • +100 to Strength
  • +50 Life on Striking in Melee
  • (31 to 40)% Chance of Uninterruptable Attack
  • Socketed: 6
  • The ‘SotS’, repeatedly nerfed to no avail and es still #1 in Brazil. Read a build guide (especially one that lists every uberquest as Easy, Easy, Easy, Easy, Easy and Astrogha as Easy-Medium) and among the incomprehensible acronyms you’ll probably find ‘SotS’ somewhere. This is intentional, because the bright lights at Blizzard cracked down on ‘overpowered items’ and the result is:

    Diablo 3:

    Remember when I said every uni– sorry, lamedreary in Diablo 3 was aimed at Spikes? Unfortunately the Spikes don’t want them because they do less damage than the above mentioned dumpster blue. A big fat zero again.


    Diablo 3 lamedrearies are aimed at Spike players at the intentional expense of Johnny and Timmy (and still manage to fail because they are too weak). Therefore buffing them won’t achieve anything unless they become the best items in the game or Spike will still ignore them, and won’t make them any more tactically interesting or bigger so the Johnny and Spike aren’t satisfied either.

    This may explain why people NOW claim uniques should be the best, despite advocating the opposite in the past 11.5 years. Only the Spikes want them to be literally the best – the Johnnies and Timmies simply don’t care anymore and have given up on the game after the Great Death Blossom Disillusion and the Why Is My Hero So Weak Disillusion respectively. Their dreams crushed, all that is left is normal difficulty and the rose coloured binoculars pointed at Guild Wars 2. And of course Teemo in your ranked game. Thanks, Blizzard.

    So there’s Laz’s semi-professional opinion. Hard to argue with his conclusions, as far as I can see. What do you guys think? Is he right? Can Blizzard resuscitate the legendary and set items in their game, and what could they have been thinking, launching with an array of green and orange items that so many fans realized at a glance were underpowered and uninteresting?


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    1. I am a definitely a Johnny.

      Diablo 3 needs more crazy quirky ‘unique’ legendary item.

      • I’m more of a collector/hoarder, but since he’s talking about actual use of the items I definitely fit the Johnny bill. Alas, with the new skill system (which is fun, I have to say) itemization has all but been removed as a component of creating an oddball build. o-skills and procs were absolute necessities for that in D2.

      • Remember how set items in D2 were usually only good with 3-4 pieces and sometimes was worth it to wear the hole set before runewords became so op… well D3′ set bonuses are a joke

      • we need runewords..crafted items (rare-> crafted) so 90% of them are not useless anymore…greys can have sockets and stats….we need wp that are useable between acts. i don’t need pony levels but cow levels :mrgreen:

        we need Laz @ blizzard (loved mxl).

    2. IMO rares should be the best items in game but Legendarys should be good and while not best useful endgame. 

      And more importantly they should have unique affixes, preferably strange, fun and synergetic to wierd builds making it possible to use builds that would not be viable with out the specific legendary/s used for it.

      • I agree, but would add that PERFECT Rares should be the best in the game, with Legendarys being comprable to at least the top 20% of Rares.

      • Wonderfully written article.

        HOWEVER, it only talks about and lists WEAPONS.
        Possibly the weapons itself are not broken but the combat mechanics by which all classes’ output is based on weapon damage.

        My real point though is that when people talk about legendaries and whatnot, they only do comparisons with rare weapons, since the difference in DPS is so flagrant and it be the most important stat on a weapon.
        How about truly talking about all types of gearslots and actually talking about set-items?3
        The introduction of this article leads to believe that we will get more info on that but we don’t.

        “”With most fans expressing dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of legendary and set items in Diablo III, I thought it would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone who, unlike any current Blizzard employees, has actually designed full suites of Set and Unique items for Diablo II. “”

        So in the end it is again nothing but a Legendary WEP vs Rare WEP.


    3. what D3 needs is for legendary items to actually drop.  i am starting to think they were disabled in my copy or something. its crazy

      • You will think this way until you find a pair of them. Probably you’ll get excited and will want to identify it right away. First “doh” will be when you realize your mediocre rare is much better than the legendary you just found. After that you may head to the auction house to sell it and make a fortune, but upon checking the items avaible you’ll realize there are a lot of crappy blues that are quite better than your new unique (second “doh”). By the end chances are you’ll try to sell it for a starting bid of, say, 5k gold, and see if someone raises the price because hey, it’s a unique item and is cheap!
        I think Brother Laz is spot on the boringness of those items. Most people would accept them not being the most powerful in the game if they had some cool extra trait or made some weak build viable.

      • I know one person with 120 hours with one character and he hasn’t found one legendary or set item yet!

      • More than 150 hours of playing time and I found 1 (one) very bad legendary item (no set item of course), that’s a big problem imo.
        Where is the fun?

      • I found 3 legendary items. 1 in normal act 3, while I was leveling a friend on the bridge right before the siegebreaker. It was crap.
        The second was in inferno. It was a weapon with like 100 dps. Good stats, but the DPS was WAY to low.
        I found the third one in inferno, too. Some part of the armor with around 200 armor. No resistances. Again: crap.

        Believe me, you didnt miss anything 

        BTW: I think laz is right in most cases. The items just don’t attract many people, although it’s the best way blizzard could have chosen.
        The problem is that unique items should have unique mechanics. And they lack that funny thing.
        –> Every legendary should get a rework, or should get added some funny stats, that make you think: Oh well, there is this funny Item I can use, to smash enemies on a funny way. That makes me happy! Yay!!! 
        I still remember that one runeword or unique (?) for a amazon bow, with which you casted so many different cold spells on hit and on kill. It was awesome, that the enemies were frozen all the time. It may took long to kill, but  it was safe. And Funny. 

        All the funny character customization takes place in the skill build, not in the item build. Items only add damage, health, armor etc., but they dont add any fun.

        • That bow would be Hand of Karcheus.

          It would be nice if this “funny character customisation” was based on items or even random skills (ever failed to find a fireball book in D1 and got stuck with flame wave for 10 levels?) but you unlock skills at fixed times. 

    4. 1. Great article
      2. I think they can fix the items (and possibly should hire Laz to do it for them!)
      3. I wouldn’t mind if legendaries sucked but there were more of them – in DII I never got any awesome end-game uniques but I got a variety of so-so  mid-game uniques that I could use for a few levels, and they were fun.

    5. I consider myself a mix between Spike and Johnny, and think games should be designed so Timmy is never viable past the easiest difficulty.

      • I think that that description really doesn’t do justice to poor Timmy, and hence your reaction is a bit unfair.
        The original definition indicated that Timmy wants to experience/feel something, Johnny wants to express something, and Spike wants to prove something (essentially how good he/she is).
        Wanting to experience something does not mean a perennial nooblord who sucks at everything and runs around going PEW PEW PEW with no rhyme or reason. It just means someone who cares more about the visceral, immediate reactions. There’s at least a little sliver of Timmy in everyone.
        On topic: as a Johnny player, I wholeheartedly agree with Brother Laz.

        • I went and read the original descriptions created for MtG and I agree. This article’s definition of Timmy doesn’t do him justice.

          Under the Laz definition (Noob Timmy… Nooby), I stand by my statement.

    6. The state of Diablo 2 right now is perfect. The issues with legendaries in d3 are:
      1. 95% of rares/blues are better than a level 60 legendary. This was not the case in d2. You had to find that 5% rare or magic item that could outclass a unique/runeword. Having rares that were better were good, but not every single rare to the point where uniques sucked.
      2. Uniques were useful for more than 1-2 levels in D2. Frostburn, magefists, shako, vipermagi, dungoes. These things were low level requirement but their stats made them amazingly viable even at level 80+. So many good strong builds required a few under level 60 items. Nothing in D3 is the same. There are about 20 useful legendary items out of the whole 200 they made. Pointless.
      3. They need to bring back guaranteed Rares from first boss kill in NM and Hell. This was a stupid removal and made players feel flat when they are dying like crazy or struggling to kill a boss to be rewarded with 2 blues. Most players have not found more than 1-2 legendaries. In Diablo 2 you would find a lot, the low level ones are still viable and while you didn’t replace your best weapon with it usually, it often gave you energy to find a better one.
      4. You could find useful legendaries in NM or areas of lower difficulty. Problem with inferno is you need Act 3 and 4 inferno items from the AH to actually pass Act 2. Maybe DH and Wiz can, but a Barb (My class) is frankly impossible unless you have rediculous hand me downs. In D2 you could farm Nightmare to find uniques to strengthen yourself that were actually useful. Act 4 hell items will not get you through Act 2 inferno. Nor will Act 1 items.

      • I had to use the AH since Act I, Hell on my barbarian. Of course this is without going back to farm at all considering the prospect of a good legendary drop is nil, which was the whole driving force in Diablo 2.

      • I agree with this assessment. I have 100 hours in on only 1 character and I have not found a single legendary, and even if I did it would be worthless. Also, one of the biggest issues is #3, if you’re not running inferno mode you’re not going to get anything worth using or that will sell.

    7. please send a copy of this article to jay, thanks.

    8. The solution is pretty easy, but this is an enjoyable way to put it. Kudo’s!

      Blizz should (as everybody knows):
      – Buff
      – Make ’em special

      I like the artwork though. 

    9. I cant believe they shipped this game as it is. The set and unique items are just 1 small part of the problem. They need to bring back the diablo2 feeling and they need to do it quickly. But it being Blizzard, nothing gets done quickly. Set items and unique items need to get buffed. And they need to get their special abilities. Not just some random stuff you also find on rare items. Get rid of the 1.7% chance on knockback. What is that crap, who thought that was interesting?! The frequency needs to be upped as well. We want to find our own items in the actual game. Not while browsing some database outside the actual game.

      Lose the quest xp bonus for repeating a quest we already completed so we dont repeat silly quests to level up.
      Lose all the treasure goblins, or hide them deep inside caves and things far away from waypoints.
      Fix inferno difficulty. Make it actually difficult in a way that requires skill instead of a gear check.

      And I would even go as far to lose the GAH completely or make some drastic changes to it. Idea: Hide AH npc’s in the game, a different NPC for each item type. It’s to damn easy right now to get upgrades, and I dont like that it’s outside of the game.

      example: Change the merchant npc’s that show up after certain events into AH npc’s for a specific item type.

      • Speaking of quests, I don’t really like how they’ve changed all the quest rewards to some arbitrary amount of gold and exp. The quests flow nicely with the story, so there’s less of the whole “run all the way back to Jehryn because you forgot to talk to him” stuff, but they almost fade into the background irrelevantly. Even the few quests that require you to obtain some item, it doesn’t show up in your stash so it barely feels like you’ve done anything. I dunno, because I hated making that damn flail all the time, but I wish the quests were more engaging and had better rewards, even if it’s just an item or a gem or something.

        • There is in effect only one D3 quest. One long quest with short term objectives.
          You never have more than one quest at a time and I never even bother checking my quest log (it is not even a log as it doesnt allow you to view previously completed objectives).
          It is impossible not to complete these ‘quests’ (objectives) as they are spoonfed to the player throughout the game. Having played through the game a few times i struggle to remember any of them.
          No real side quests (events dont count), REALLY booooring items and instant build respec mean that i am already getting bored of D3.
          Good PvP will improve longevity. please get it right blizzard.

    10. Absolutely agreed. I love the game to death and will be playing it for years regardless, but this is #1 issue on blizzard’s plate right now. Fix it, and they will get a ton of fans back AND a ton of new fans.

    11. Interesting read and quite amusing.. Agree 100% – I have actually stopped playing at 54lvl Hell because I got bored – no interesting items = no fun, which in turn = qq..

      I hope that future patches fix this otherwise I don’t think it will be a game I return to.

      By the way did anyone else see the Watch Dogs Trailer and Gameplay video? It looks amazing.


    12. Can’t remember an action rpg where legendary items were not the best. I’ll say it again, you can’t make alot of money from the RMAH if legendary items are the best so they made everyone equal so they can make more money. Not hard to figure out.

      • On the one hand I can see that as a possibility but on the other I don’t.  Even in D2 there was a huge thriving economy to grow your pile of wealth so that you could afford the top end items in the game.  With items as scarce as they are in D3 it wouldn’t be hard to keep a thriving trade economy alive for a long time even if players could identify the best in slot for their characters.  Even players who did fill out their characters in runewords and uniques ended up sticking around to get perfect variants which could involve incredible amounts of trading since those items were the absolute most valuable items in the market.

    13. some stats and skills feels like participating in a lottery… 
      “1.9% chance to XYZ” = “98.1% useless”
      “Revenge has a 15% chance to become active each time you are hit.” – so, like, really, really, i mean like, really, useless in Inferno if you’re being done after 1-3 hits by the enemy

    14. My theory is that the current crop of legendaries are just placeholders to test out drop rates – as items, they are intentionally lame because Blizz doesn’t want to have to purge overpowered legacy items later on (especially ones people have paid real money for), whether they are overpowered through superior stats, or just through weird bonuses that have unexpectedly powerful consequences.  They’ll be a bit more adventurous once they’re at the fine-tuning stage when it comes to balance, which is clearly some way off right now.  We shouldn’t be too nostalgic: think how feeble DII’s uniques were on initial release and how horribly unbalanced the game was in various respects (and still is, despite years of patches).

      • They’ll lose a good amount of players before this happens. I’m getting close to level 60, and can’t really see myself playing much more.

        What am I playing for? To get a better stat stick, with uninteresting affixes?
        I want an item to drop that gives me the urge to try a new “build”, such as they are in D3. Or, a new item that tempts me to roll a new class to use the item.

        Maybe, I’m just too old compared to my age playing D2….but I feel nothing playing this game.

      • I wouldn’t go so far as to say placeholders, but I think Bliz clearly erred on the side of caution in terms of legendary quality. Two reasons:

        1) They knew they’d be doing item adjustments in a patch and figured they could easily buff for future improvements, but that fans would go crazy if they had to remove or retroactively nerf overpowered legendary item.  (Especially since they can’t purge the economy with a ladder reset, D2 style.) 

        2) The AH and no soulbinding means that everything good gets recycled forever, and that even with very low drop rates, any  legendary that could pop at super quality would eventually clog up the AH.


      • that “remember how horrible d2 was at launch” excuse is getting really lame. so what if it was?
        it was patched several times, an expansion came out, features were added. they have all this information already! they knew what worked and what didnt. what was fun and what wasnt.
        yet they chose a to ignore almost all of that, and instead let greed dictate how they would design the game..

    15. Yes, this pretty much sums up the ‘starving’ sensation I’ve been having lately about the items and gear found in DIII, currently.  I couldn’t seem to put my finger on it, but yes, I do miss those quirky modifiers. 
      Even if I did find a unique item which has less defense or offense on it than one of my current items, the ‘unique modifiers’ on it usually were fun and worth playing around with. 
      I’m not just looking for overpowered uniques, I’m looking for uniques which bring something fun and rare (and unique, imagine that) to the gameplay.

      • I found a Legendary item yesterday, Magefist while playing my Wizard.  I got excited by the name recognition, then I ID’d the item.  What a slap in the face to its predecessor.  There is nothing unique or legendary about this item.  In fact, it’s crap (not that we don’t already know this).

    16. Give credit where credit is due. The Timmy/Johnny/Spike trichotomy of player psychographic profiles was developed by Wizards of the Coast for Magic: the Gathering years ago.


      • My thought exactly! As exactly having read alot of the timmy/spike/johnny (and in addition melvin and vorthos) articles, I’m ashamed in your place for thinking people either wouldn’t recognize your profiling or you obliviously not mentioning your source.

    17. As per usual, I couldn’t see the substance of the article because there was an ego the size of some small countries in the way. Something about catering to munchkins, I think?

    18. An interesting column and I never thought of games that way. I guess I’m mostly a Timmy. I like to absolutely crush everything on the screen. I have had that “why is my character so weak” moment more often than I would like in D3, but I trust them to get it right eventually, maybe.

    19. Legendaries and sets are my biggest complaint about D3 currently.  I wish Blizzard had people like Brother Laz working for them who understand what people want.  I still have hope for patches and expansions, but it will take a large overhaul to make legendaries anywhere near as interesting as they were in D2.

    20. Using the MTG profiles (sans vorthos and melvin, who are actually even more important to consider here than MTG itself) is one way of evaluating them, but all you’re really doing is looking at the end product of the D3 items, not what is really wrong with them in design terms, in the raw mechanics themselves. The D3 itemization is deeply flawed on a fundamental level because of what it lacks, not so much how it appeals to different niches of players- you can easily see that “Legendaries suck”, but can you really figure out why?

      Specifically, the most jarring omission is that no item in D3 has a (meaningful) mechanical affix, at all. If you’re curious what I mean or want another way to view the problem, you might be interested in my summation;  

    21. People expect to add depth to items from a company that regards free skill selection as something too complicated to comprehend for an average player. Besides, the features of D3 and it’s general lack of depth and overwhleming accessibility doesn’t promote unique affixes on legendary items. I don’t doubt that legendary items WILL be more interesting than what we got now, but:

      1. It will happen not sooner than at least in a couple of months
      2. Legendaries will not be even close to the level of fun they provided in D2

    22. Does anyone not remember that uniques and sets were useless when D2 first came out?  He even mentions it in his article that rares were the best items then.  There weren’t even any uniques for items past the normal range!!!  Sets were garbage.  It wasn’t until LoD (or even 1.10 for that matter) that things really started to get interesting.

      Right – so I know what you’ll say: “They should have learned their lesson!  they have all that experience from LoD that they should have leveraged!”  Yes.  You’re right.  They should have.  They screwed up and disappointed people.  But STOP saying “I don’t know if they’ll be able to get it right… it might be too late to fix….”  The game is THREE WEEKS OLD for crying out loud!

      How do I know they’ll fix the items and make it better?  Because they did it before!  D2 classic had no end game – so they added one.  The uniques and sets were terrible – so they made them better.  And it took TIME.  But they DID it.  They can STILL do it with D3, and they WILL!

      • The game is THREE WEEKS OLD for crying out loud!
        …so ?
        They got 12 years experience with D2 and they still screw it in D3 – 3 weeks old excuse is just pathetic.
        You can ask yourself why ?, answer is pretty simple – AH/RMAH.

        • Haha, say what? D2 and D3 were made by different teams. So your little 12 years experience tale is a lie.

        • I already rebutted and acknowledged that excuse in my original post.  Yes, they should have done better.  I’m addressing the people who say this is un-fixable and is ruining the game.  Blizzard’s great quality is that they continue to develop and improve their games after release – D2 was broken upon release, and they fixed it.  D3 is broken upon release (though still EXTREMELY fun), and they WILL fix it. This is not even going to be an issue in 6 months.

      • What they are lacking -mechanical affixes- cannot be simply added in a patch. No amount of feasible reworking is going to save the D3 item system in anything less than an expansion pack. They are missing core game mechanics that should have been in place from the start of design before a single line of code was ever written, not as hindsight after the fact.

        • D2 was fixed in an expansion pack.  D3 will be improved in an expansion pack, too.  Just because they made mistakes doesn’t mean those mistakes aren’t fixable. 

          • But with the above poster’s point in mind (the core mechanics are bad), we know that this won’t be fixed in a simple patch.  An expansion pack is 2 years MINIMUM with current Blizzard development cycle times.  That’s what every WoW expansion and HotS is looking to be for SC2.  It is utterly absurd to ask us to be patient for 2 years while they fix fundamental stuff that was already well addressed in both D2 LoD and even better addressed in MXL.

    23. Didn’t they use members of an elite raiding guild in EQ to help develop WoW?
      They should have brought this guy on the D3 item team.

    24. It’s really the truth – uniques should have some sort of stat or bonus that nothing else could possibly spawn with, or at least something interesting – take the Brand runeword (not a unique, but it serve to make this point well): it spawns a piercing magic damage missile with every hit, and can (with proper use of other abilities or uniques) be made to pierce. It might not be amazing, but seeing that damage cascade upwards as it goes through a large pack of monsters is just hilarious. It manages both to be fun (look ma! I’m shooting Bone Spears) and to provide a new way to approach enemies (if I herd them together, everything in the back will just die from the barrage of doom). If Blizzard can bring themselves to remove the application of every weapon effect on every skill, they might be able to find a good place for CtC abilities – 3 percent is only fun if it’s something awe-inspiring; 3% to cast Fire Mah Lazor From Space is fun, 3% to cast generic small push is boring.

      • Well, runewords are basically uniques that can be fitted to whatever items your current set of stats can wield, so there’s no real reason for the disclaimer in the first parenthesis. (/nitpick)

    25. Nice use of Magic: the Gathering player archetypes.

      Seems to me, Diablo was rushed… this game doesn’t have the usual Blizzard polish on it.  Diablo is about the items, and it seems that items were the last thing they worked on before they hurriedly pushed it out the doory.

    26. A few things:
      1. Laz is a great, veteran community member, and I have huge respect for both his work and his thoughts on the matter.
      2. I am definitely a mix between all 3 types of player, gravitating Johnny! WWS FTW baby!
      3. I haven’t touched D3 in the past week, and will probably not touch it again before 1.1 is here, even though I doubt that will manage to save the game for me. I will, however, run and install D2 and get MXL ASAP. Used to love that mod back in the day, and it HAS been too long since I played it last! 😀

    27. Laz’s item design is precisely what made LoD such an utter mess – giving every class other class’s skills via item procs, which create mandatory combos and builds that make it so that you can get past all intended forms of difficulty by allowing classes to do things they weren’t meant to do. Then the developer has to counter with more artificial difficulty (which is why we saw the big immunities patch in LoD), and that only made particular overpowered +oskill and +aura and other (usually duped) high runewords more prevalent. The entire item system was a mess.
      No one cared about Johnny uniques in D2. Sure you had the spear that was poison themed and did lots of poison damage, but if it wasn’t useful no one wanted it, kept it, sold it, or even picked it up. 99.9% of the time, uniques were valued only for their utility.
      You are already seeing those legendaries that do powerful things that you can’t get on rares become very vaulable (Andarial’s Visage, due to the AS% on a helm, is an example of this).
      Making legendaries more powerful will indeed fix all the problems. THe last thing we need them to do is invent new types of affixes and broken abilities because that will inevitably screw up the game just as LoD did – balancing what we have is perfect.

      • I half agree. Median had way too many proc based items. They stopped being special and more often than not you had no idea what the abilities in your items did without looking it up (because there were so many of them). Plus too many procs got incredibly spammy on the screen.

        I disagree about the rest of your post though. There’s still room for more interesting items. Currently D3 is just mainstat+vit+allres in every item slot. Attack speed or crit on top of that if you’re really lucky/rich. You can add more flavour without breaking everything. I think D2 had a reasonable balance of quirky modifiers that allowed for some new kind of builds without becoming mandatory. Yes, Enigma was broken but there were a lot of good items that were not.

        • I don’t think there’s any chance we’re getting new affix types until the expansions. But they can absolutely buff some of the alternative affixes that exist already and use custom values on legendaries in order to create items that behave very differently. Give a legendary bow a much higher chance to cause fear than you can get on rares. Give a legendary shoulders a +lightning resistance higher than you could ever find normally on items and add some lightning damage to weapon or something (single resists is an exciting affix for monks). That kind of thing. As long as they’re powerful, save designing procs and similar things for the xpacs.

        • I’d have liked more special effects besides procs and aura based ones but the engine doesn’t let you.

          Eventually I just made oskills of new item-only skills. Got a hundred of those skills by the end. 

      • I utterly disagree with your post.  Johnny and Timmy uniques were incredibly popular.  If you did any significant trading in D2 then you’d know that some of them were valued as highly as some spike items.  The Windforce for example retained incredible value throughout the life of D2 even though is was widely known to be less effective than almost any good runeword bow.

        Another great example were dragon and dream which had players design builds around them.  As individual items they weren’t useful in the least but with the proper build they could make a character competitive with any other spike geared player.

        Yes, there were Johnny uniques that weren’t very popular but that was true for many items especially at the lower levels when they quickly become outclassed at the end game.

        For your final comment, I must agree with Laz in that legendaries will never be very popular unless they are buffed to be flat out better than everything else.  When the only difference between a legendary and a rare is the number on the stats it won’t get worn unless it’s better.  That won’t make legendaries any more desirable if they still aren’t the best.  This is just as true as it was with the boring uniques in D2. 

        • I think another valid point is that not every unique is end game. There were a bunch of fun uniques and sets in D2 that were awesome from level 20-30, or 40-50, or whatever. Just because you eventually outgrew them doesn’t mean they weren’t a lot of fun, or useful in some special way, prior to that. 

          And those items can be Johnny or Timmy types, while also being Spikes for their level. The best of all worlds!

    28. I couldnt agree more with this article. 

    29. I love this article and I think he’s perfectly right with what sucks with the items. I want fun proccs that kinda sucks but makes a lot of colours and stuff!

      I believe that Blizzard can fix this, but they need to do it extremely fast before they really start to lose players. 

    30. Thanks Laz. This was a fantastic post the first time I read it, and I’m glad it’s now on the front page as opposed to buried in the forums.  Can’t say I agree with everything in this but that doesn’t detract from it being great.

    31. *** moved reply to the right spot ***

    32. Blizzard just took legendaries not being the best way too far.
      I think what most people wanted was to have legendaries be far and ahead the best items, with rares with absolutely perfectly rolled stats to have an outside chance at being better, like a 0.0001% chance at being better.

    33. I like the player categorization for how it applies to D2, and how those players are unsatisfied in D3 is well argued.  But what is the result?  What kind of player have we become given the current state of things?

      I believe that we have all been lumped into a single group, the “Numi”, as in all we do is look at that big fat number next to the weapon, or at best check if the two small numbers are green or red under a piece of armor.  Does anyone really look at anything else?  Certainly later on in inferno we might … but we also might not.

      Remember the item-type progression in D2 and the associated inventory graphics?

      ShortSword-Scimitar-Sabre-Falchion etc. etc. for all weapons all armor Normal-Excep-Elite … I’m sure almost all of us after all these years can recall to great accuracy how that worked … can anyone even come close to describing individual item progressions and how they look in the inventory / in-game now?

      The real question is, does anybody care?  I think not, because all we look at is the big number next to the item, whatever it is.

      So not only have legendaries become irrelevant, all items have become irrelevant in terms of their type, style look and what they do aside from raising one’s damage or hp.

    34. I’m one of those hipsters that played Median XL when it was all about the rares, and stopped after he changed it.  So, I really like itemization in D3.  It means I don’t actually fall into those 3 categories, and am in some terribly tiny minority. Oh well. If Blizz changes things and more people enjoy the game because of it, I’ll still play I guess. I really do enjoy the hunt for rares though.

      • You’re not in a tiny minority. Actually most of the general players have little opinion on it. The passionate ones often are the ones who end up on this site, and a lot of those who complain do so loudly.

        Look on the recommendations on past front page itemization posts. You’ll see a lot of upvotes for posts that legendaries should be best, but you’ll also see a lot of upvotes for posts that rares should be the best. So I wouldn’t say the “Rareites” are a majority. We’re a very size-able, albeit quieter, minority.

        That said, if you’re happy with the current variety of usable mods, you’re probably still in what he described as the “Spike” category, looking for just whatever is the best overall gear.  You just happen to be perfectly happy with the best overall gear being found in rares.

        • There’s nothing wrong with rares being situationally the best items in the game in certain slots IF you get an absolutely ridiculously rare perfect roll.  This applied to several item types in Diablo 2.  The problem occurs when I can find about a hundred thousand mediocre, cheap, uninteresting, boring blue weapons that outclass EVERY SINGLE LEGENDARY WEAPON IN THE GAME.  All easily farmed from act 4 aspects.  I’m OK with a level 60 rare glove with big dexterity, vitality, AR, IAS, CHC, CHD being a 30 million gold, better-than-legendary item because that is a 1 in a million or more roll.  THAT is how it should be. 

          There are a few examples of good legendaries in D3, but even those are relatively boring.  Every single one (Andariel’s, Beckon Sail, Lacuni Prowlers, Flavor of Time, etc.) is popular because it offers either IAS or movement speed on a slot where rares cannot roll those stats.  Keep in mind that a really good rare roll can still be situationally much better than any of these items, but they are popular because they offer unique bonuses.  They are the relatively standard and boring unique bonuses of IAS and MS, but it’s a good start dammit.

    35. I feel like this really hits the nail on the head. The reason that the D3 legendaries are a bad design is that right now they appeal to nobody. They’re only sort of desirable at first because of the impact of having gotten something really rare. The intrinsic appeal of having an “it’s a legendary!” isn’t worthless, but eventually players wise up and realize that legendaries aren’t necessarily particularly valuable in the pursuit of whatever their particular playstyle is. To be fair, it’s a pretty powerful effect; I definitely get majorly excited when a legendary drops even though I know on some level it’s not necessarily something I’ll ever use.
      I think there’s something to be said for legendaries being great and unique items in terms of what they do for the game’s mythology and shared vocabulary. While not all Burizas are created alike, “Buriza” means something in a way that “1k DPS Bow with Dex and Vit on it” doesn’t.

    36. The categorization of players shows the matter in funny way. I like it but its not fully true. I think I would mostly fit Spike, I generally will use everything to win. But then I will create troll builds and fail chars. Then when I get a bit bored with the game on my main char I will start using some sub-par items that are cool. I feel that every player will behave like all those 3 at different times.

      As to D3 uniques, there is just no point using them (items like any other but weak), showing them off (everyone can get the same from AH) or even looking at them (even flavor texts and looks are not interesting). One exception is the Horadric Hamburger which is so dumb that you don’t even feel like it’s good idea to tell friends ‘Hey, have you seen this unique?’.

      There is Stormshield, Ring of the Zodiac and a few other to cater to all the Spikes. Them not being 100% best is still OK, still, at this point players don’t care about using uniques. For lower levels that progress with through game without exploits, you may use a unique for a few minutes but you get better item too quickly because of how game is designed (no stat requirements for example).  For more fun there is literally nothing.  You don’t feel any special from using a LEGENDARY! weapon. If there was a shitty shield that had 90% chance to block it could be used in some builds for a large part of game. If there was a wand that improved freeze effects on cold effect it would be usable forever for support characters and give a lot of fun.

      I don’t think that there should be a mass of super cool and OP uniques like in MXL mod – the mod was mostly played by players that got bored with D2, didn’t want to play the same game again, didn’t care about balance. They wanted to play a few hours and rock the world, then after some time go back for a few hours and find a new item that made more rampage. It was cool as separate mod but I feel that right now D3 needs ladders for some competition (with patches and ladder resets first of course).

    37. Very well thought out article and this is exactly why D3 is boring. Even in nightmare there was amazing items that could drop, the depth and longevity of items way below your current level was amazing. 
      This article also made me want to go play some more median.

    38. I defy the classification, and pretty much any classification that focuses on the mythical “end game”.  For me it’s about progress through the game, and changes that different items bring to my characters.  D3 doesn’t change… you just need better items to keep up, but nothing really different will ever drop.  Without o-skills, we’re pretty much the same character regardless of what items we use.  There’s nothing special about any item really.

      • I never did get the point about it being about the end-game, and the end-game alone. Maybe it makes sense from a PvP viewpoint, but if a player of a given game is mostly about PvE, not so much. Honestly, are the battles with Sauron and Morgoth the only “true” part of Angband? High Peak the only “true” part of Tales of Maj’Eyal? And let’s not get into more traditional, arcade-style games. What kind of shmup is only about the final stage and/or boss? Or beat-’em-up? And so on.
        All I can think of is that such players who do focus entirely on the end-game just resent the seeming weakness and repetition of the early game. And yet…repeated Hell-Bael runs aren’t repetitive? At least outside of, if you can defeat Hell Bael and Hell Cow King, what, exactly, is LEFT? What do you need more powerful equipment for? And likewise ON, what new things are left once you’ve earned Annihilus, that something like Annihilus would be needed? It really does confuse me. All I can see as a motivation is greater glory, but I play games to simulate saving the world, not to preen in front of other gamers…

    39. This is the most disjointed, incoherent, and amateurish writing I have ever read.

    40. Here’s a thought :

      We need the Laz’es and Icefrogs of the world to bring something truly unique to the table.

      Valve will hire Laz and make a D2 clone. Only to be smarter this time and call it something that would avoid a lawsuit.

      It will be great and Valve will sell cosmetic IAP.

      GG Blizz and Modders FTW. 

    41. This is the most brilliant (and humorous) Diablo-related post I’ve read in the past 3 years.

      Game deleted.
      Reinstalling Diablo 2 and Median XL.


    42. i wnat cool uniques. fuck these lame legendaries!

    43. Dude, we know each other?

    44. I found Beckon Sail on my DH, it was a huge upgrade for me, then again, I haven’t been farming the AH, so I dunno. Still, was excited… But I can see the desire for wacky items or outlandish modifiers. I still enjoy the item hunt, however, finding a perfectly itemized item is pretty exciting, especially since it’s so damn hard to find.

    45. Meh, already asked for a refund for online copy and so can you.

    46. Reaching 170 hours of gaming time and up to now not one single lamedary 😀 (I like that!!!).
      I remember playing Diablo 1 and 2 the joy of finding something unique… YEAH… even if it was useful only for a short time leveling up 🙂
      In my opinion it would make sence to give the players a possibilities to find at least one unique lamedary in each act starting from normal and these should be useful to the player character your are right now using!
      Further it seems to me that Blizzard is enforcing to much the use aof the AH in order to get good equipment for the upcoming levels. I have no problem in leveling up slower in order to get my character build capable of fighting through the higher levels and at least Inferno, but the way to get there is a bit fustration if you hack and slay your way to the story and mainly collecting material for the dealers or the scrap yard (WTF do the dealers with all this crazy worthless stuff?!?!?).
      Ok… off again for hunting scrap!!!!

    47. Imo, the problem is the lack of cool affixes in the game, even though we provided Blizzard with thousands of ideas when they asked.

      Btw, I think Spike, Johnny and Timmy got together one night, and I want a DNA test. 

    48. Found my one and only Legendary on my first day playing, a L9 Crossbow I couldn’t give away; Bakkan Caster.

      Have a Hardcore Wiz L56, HC Monk L45, lost a HC Monk 32, lost a HC DH L23. So I waould say I have spent a lot of hours in game. Ont the one Legendary, above, no others seen, nor any set gear either.

    49. 90 Hours played, 4 Legendaries.
      Total Spike.

    50. To those who say I misrepresent Timmy: there is a lot more depth behind the original MTG concept, but MTG is a strategy game and Diablo isn’t, so his desire for winning in big and exciting ways translates to big numbers.


      I’m a total Johnny myself. If a build (or LoL champion etc) is popular, that’s a reason for me to not use it. Cue discovering most wizard spells not named “Blizzard” or “Hydra” are strictly worse and stop being viable in mid-NM.

    51. Hi,
      Nice and helpful information shared by you. I like it so much. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Can I buy diablo3 gold on cheap rate?
      Prash patel

    52. What people asked for was 1% of rare drops to be better than legendary’s. -Nobody- -anywhere- was asking for your average rare to have better stats than legendary’s. Period that simply was never a request by the gaming population, it makes no fing sense we aren’t that stupid.

      Unfortunately spikes are, I shouldn’t say stupid, but they don’t get out much and will in the end give blizzard more money. -Anyone- who says “you mad bro” is a spike.

      • Question is, how MANY Spikes would be like that. There’s the Spikes who simply prefer to find the most effective way to shut down the Tathamet…And then there’s the Spikes who cannot fathom WHY anyone would prize something besides rapid and safe Tathamet destruction (e.g. how they’re doing it. Preferring any one of artillerist, escort fighter master, etc. even if it’s not the most potent)–the only explanation they can think of is that the non-Spikes have misgauged what’s effective. I call the latter hyper-Spikes, or perhaps better still solipsist Spikes (as in, they think the Spike mentality is the only one people are capable of having).

    53. I suppose it says something that this was my idea of a stab at an original runeword set-up (the idea was to design something particularly for huntermentalist Druids, while still keeping it interesting for other archers, like Amazons and ranger Paladins):

      ElMalRalAmn (replace Amn with Um?)–L49
      4 socket bows

      +50 AR
      +1 light
      Prevent monster healing
      +65-125 fire damage
      +7% HP leach (or +25% open wounds if Um is used instead of Amn…)
      Fires explosive arrows
      10% chance of casting L8 Decrepify when striking
      50 charges of L7 Slow Missiles or +3 Slow Missiles (all) (I haven’t decided which is better)
      +2 Fire skills
      +40-55% damage (varies)
      Obviously my sense of what percentages were needed was off (damage amplification for a runeword whose highest rune is Mal should be somewhere in the +250% range, for starters), but I did want to keep true to the concept. At the very least, for the sake of the flavor of the Flickering Flame quality, I’d call the +fire skills, chance to activate Decrepify (as in a flame getting weaker), and explosive arrows necessary components. I’d have loved a way to have it give +ally skills (druid summons, necromancer skeletons and golemim, amazon valkyries), in part to suggest a flame flickering to greater brightness instead of lesser, but that doesn’t seem to be in the code.
      Granted that my chart probably wouldn’t succeed at it, but I think the ideal should be for as many set items, uniques, and crafteds/runewords to be a Johnny/Spike overlap as possible. Unfortunately, probably due at least in part to many long years of WoW steeping, the designers seem to be under the impression that Johnny itemcraft is pointless–you’re expected as a matter of course to constantly swap your equipment levels upwards. Remember that in WoW, items really only increase your margin of error–your strategy is pretty much all about your inborn skills. Probably had to be that way for raids to work as intended, but roguelikes aren’t exactly raids…

    54. You need magic find, it’s not broken. I found 4 legendaries by the time I hit Hell mode, cause I was running with 80-100% magic find.
      @Apocolypse on June 5th. Said something about legendaries never dropping.

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