Boss Terminology Survey

One issue that came up in comments on the encyclopedic Boss Modifier wiki articles we posted yesterday was what to call the various types of beasties in Diablo III. There are three types of boss-quality enemies; Champions with blue names, bosses/elites/rares with yellow names and random stats, and elites/uniques/superuniques with purple names and fixed stats. The system of monster organization in D3 is taken from D2, but the names are changed… and perhaps not for the better.

History lesson:

Diablo II created the boss organization system, but used different terms. In that game “Bosses” was the generic term for everything, and that was broken down into Champions (which D2X diversified into Ghostly, Champions, Berserker, Fanatic, and Possessed), Bosses, and SuperUniques. This nomenclature was workable, though “boss” being a general term and a specific one could be confusing, and “SuperUnique” is a fairly unwieldy term which was sure to confuse newcomers.

Diablo III’s boss organization system is much the same as we saw in D2, but they’ve changed around the names. They refer to all such monsters as “elites, and here’s a quote from 2 years ago, with the specific types named. (These terms were confirmed in yesterday’s Game Guide update.)

Champions – small packs of tougher mobs that have a unique champion trait, one affix, increased health, damage, harder, etc.

Rares – single enemy of great difficulty, can have a few affixes, they’re named (randomly), much tougher, comes with a group of minions that inherit their affixes and bonuses

Uniques – Unique boss monsters. Unique name/art/skills/lairs(or specific location) and are usually a part of the story/goal of a quest, if not the actual end-boss of an act. The Skeleton King and the Siegebreaker would both be uniques.

If we’d all dropped from the sky with no memories of Diablo 2 (you know, like the D3 developers themselves) this would work fairly well, except that the dominant item type in the game is also called Rare, which guarantees confusion if you refer to “rares” in conversation or a forum post, since most people will assume you’re talking about an item. That everyone who played D2 also thinks that “unique” means an item type is icing on the cake, and it’s odd that “boss,” which is the accepted term for any kind of more powerful enemy in a video game, isn’t used at all in D3.

More different opinions than Illusionists.
So what are players calling the bosses? The naming system I’ve most often heard from players is: Champions > Bosses > Elites. That’s good since all the terms clearly refer to monsters, not items. It’s bad in that “boss” is the generic term for any more powerful enemy in gaming, and thus leads to confusion if you mean the specific random yellow name enemies, or just a boss in general.

So, neither the official D2 or D3 naming systems, or the colloquial fan terminology works, for quick clarity and eschewing obfuscation. What would be better? If I had a time machine, I’d use it to go back to 2005 (or better yet, 2000) to convince the D3 team to call them Champions > Elites > SuperUniques. (I’d get to that right after I finished making love to Cleopatra and filling the trunk with da Vincis and van Goghs. And yes, you’re free to threaten death to anyone with a time machine and D3 influence who does nothing more than try to change the term for a monster type.)

Champions > Elites > SuperUniques are not perfect terms, but they’re familiar, fairly logical, appropriate, and they don’t confusingly overlap with item names. But that’s just my quick theory. Perhaps you have your own? Does anyone have good names that make clear which of the three boss types you’re talking about, that aren’t terms also used for bosses in general, or for items, or anything else equally confusing?

I threw the current options into a vote, so we can further the confusion, indecision, and indifference with statistics.

Diablo 3's Boss types should be called:

  • 1) Champions > Rares > Uniques (34%, 738 Votes)
  • 5) Something else/don't care (24%, 511 Votes)
  • 3) Champions > Elites > SuperUniques (20%, 434 Votes)
  • 4) Blue Bosses > Yellow Bosses > Purple Bosses (19%, 410 Votes)
  • 2) Champions > Bosses > SuperUniques (3%, 73 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,166

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35 thoughts on “Boss Terminology Survey

  1. They’ll always be superuniques to me. If we change it now, then I have a lot of re-working to do on the wiki. :p

    Uniques are items. Superuniques are bosses. *shrug*

  2. Back in D2 for me, blue monsters were Champions, yellow randoms were Uniques, yellow constant (Pindle, Shank, Elritch etc.) were SuperUniques, and Act bosses were… act bosses.

  3. Champions > Elites > Uniques

    Items are:
    Magic > Rare> Set/Legendary

    No redundancies, no use of the generic “boss.”

  4. Incidentally, I often find that yellow elites are actually easier than blue champion backs in D3, which was a surprising turnaround from D2. Just bring the minions down quick and then there’s only one nasty mob to deal with rather than three or four.

  5. im sorry, but what? This is Diablo 3, not Diablo 2. it says in game what they are called (read the ach)

    They ARE champs, rares, unqiues. That IS what they are…

  6. Hmm, I tend to call Nephalem-interacting monsters “Bosses” (skeleton king, butcher, belial, cydaea, etc).

    Other purple monsters drop crap for loot *sadface*. Personally I think the randomly spawning super-rare purples should also give us more loot with NV stacks… It would make a great deal more events worth doing, and would make unique monsters fun and interesting to find.

    Bosses (NV) => Champions (Blue) => Elites (Yellow) => Uniques (Purple)

    And as already mentioned there is no redundancy in item naming. I think Magic > Rare > Set/Legendary makes perfect sense.

    • i think the problem is they pushed the game live before they finished developing the purple uniques. That is the only conclusion I can come to. Because they are all super easy and there is no point to killing them.

    • What you said, exactly. Didn’t see your post before I posted below, or I would’ve just reinforced your post. 🙂

  7. I just call em all champ packs while bosses are specific mobs like diablo, belial, seige etc.

  8. I think saying “Champion,” “Rare,” and “Boss” is fine so long as you add the word “mob” to the Champion and Rare description. If you mention a “Rare mob”, everyone knows what you’re talking about.

  9. Honestly I do not care at all what we call them, but I just had to comment regardless:

    “If we’d all dropped from the sky with no memories of Diablo 2 (you know, like the D3 developers themselves)”

    I almost crapped a brick I laughed so hard when I read that line. Great one Flux :O

  10. So why exactly wasn’t Champions > Elites > Bosses an option? You even said yourself that that is what players are using, so why leave it out?

    Personally, I too call them Champions, Elites, Bosses, and the purple-named non-bosses are the Uniques. Just makes sense to me.

    Bosses don’t have to necessarily refer to EVERY “stronger-than-usual” enemy. The term was originally coined for the oft-superpowered enemy at the very end of a stage / level / act / mission / whatever. Specially-powered Enemies in the middle of a stage (often close to literally halfway through the stage) were called Subbosses or Minibosses.

    I consider Skeleton King, Maghda, Siegebreaker, Izual, etc. to be subbosses, while Butcher, Belial, and Azmodan, are bosses, and then Diablo is the final boss.

    I dunno, that’s how it was back in the Atari / NES days, so that’s what was embedded in my head.

  11. I was a bit confused by D3’s Champion system, so I called most everything a champ.

    Since then, I tend to just say “Blue Pack” or “Blues”, and occasionally “Champ Pack”.

    Then, the rares/yellows I call “Champs”.

    I call the purple bosses “Crappy Champs”. Since they aren’t really worth killing, I haven’t bothered to even name them, and I really don’t care at all what names they spawn with or where they spawn.

    Without the slangish terms, I’d say Champions > Elites > SuperUniques. Still though, super unique is a bit of a misnomer since there is NOTHING SUPER NOR UNIQUE ABOUT A PURPLE CHAMPION.

  12. “Elite packs” / “Boss Packs”

    Blue -> Champion
    Yellow – > Rare
    Purple -> Unique
    Act Boss – > Act Boss

    That’s my lingo and I’m stickin’ to it.

  13. But shouldn’t elites be the blues and champs the yellows, since it’s the champs with minions to “champion”?

  14. Interesting topic and I’m glad it’s been brought to attention. I think the system should be less confusing, more like the D2 system.

  15. Regarding the history lesson, Diablo II has at least FIVE ‘boss’ categories which affect game play:

    1. Champion (including Berserker, Fanatic, Ghostly and Possessed)
    2. Unique (random bonuses and locations, minions)
    3. Super Unique (set bonuses and locations)
    4. Boss (includes the likes of Blood Raven, Radament, Izual and Nihlathak)
    5. Act boss (in all incarnations)

    There’s some overlap, since all Act bosses are also bosses (and there’s arguably a sixth category for the uber bosses of the Pandemonium Event, which would include uber Izual). See the Arreat Summit’s Monster Bonuses, Super Unique Monsters and Bosses pages for more detail.

    I bring this up because there may be similar distinctions in Diablo III which haven’t been disclosed, or which have been overlooked. For example, in Diablo II the fact Nihlathak is a boss and not just a Super Unique means that stun length, Slow Missiles and -% Defense from Cloak of Shadows do not apply to him (whereas they still apply to Super Unique monsters like the Smith and Hephasto the Armorer).

  16. I just shout out “yellow” or “blue pack” but if we’re talking about Azmodan, Diablo etc we call them bosses.

    Champions, elites, uniques, pff cba with all that.

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  18. This is a nice post, I’m playing my witch doctor at the moment in Diablo3 and having a real hard time getting trough act 4. Anyways I learned a little bit more from this post 🙂 keep up the good work!

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