Diablo 3 Boss Runs = Sub Optimal Strategy

While special boss monsters (such as the DiabloWikiSkeleton King in the beta) will pop higher quality items for their quest drop, your character only gets that once. (Though beta testers have found exploits to farm this repeatedly by joining games with lvl 1 chars.) That’s a special case that’s only possible in the beta, though, and no one’s going to farm Leoric in the full game.

What we will be doing, apparently, is roaming all through the game world, killing random bosses, since they will drop better loot than bosses. At least that’s the plan:

Talking to Wyatt about this a little more and he brought up some good, additional points.

You will not be farming bosses. Bosses won’t drop the best loot, they won’t even drop really great loot. Part of DiabloWikiInferno and our intent with getting people out into the world and hunting and killing lots of different things is putting the best loot on rare and champion packs, and the great thing about rare and champion packs is they have random affixes. They’re like a box of chocolates. Murderous, snarling, blood-soaked chocolates. You’re not going up against a boss where you know “Build A” is the best way to minmax against it because it has abilities and resistances X, Y, and Z. What is the best build vs. an “Arcane Enchanted, Teleporter, Frozen, Knockback” skeleton pack? Got that figured out? Cause it’s not going to be the best against the next pack you come across, and you’re going to want to kill that one just as much.

You might have a specialized build that is super strong against some of these things, and not against others. Your focus is going to be on the balance between taking on all of these possibilities and surviving, and it’s that balance that makes for a ton of interesting options and variance.

The one question mark for a lot of people, and maybe even us, is what stops someone from seeing a pack, backing out (or dying) and swapping out to be better equipped to handle it? We agree that shouldn’t be the best way to play, but know it’s something we can solve pretty easily, even if it’s just making the swapping cooldown longer in later difficulties.

In any case, his point was that you could absolutely make the best build against one type of enemy, and that build could completely fail against another. It’s not D2 where you pump all your points into one ability, we’re going for some depth in our combat, but it’s your choice of tools (and there are a lot of them) that will define your character versus another.

That sounds good to me. In D2 I preferred to take well-equipped chars and clear out whole dungeon levels, rather than mindlessly repeating the same boss run(s). Unfortunately, it was so much more profitable to run Meph/Baal/Pindle/etc that the lure of that easy profit was hard to resist. Finally, a change in D3 that agrees with my game play preferences?

As for this plan limiting cookie cutter builds, I’m not sure sure. It seems like specialization for X or Y will be less viable in D3 (though with freespecs we’ll all just change to the optimal skills before a Super Unique boss battle), but with the “hunt for random mobs” design plan, and their previously-stated intention to not have Immunes on monsters, won’t everyone just gravitate towards the best all around build? I guess we’ll see how much variety there is in that, when the time comes.

Click through for a an earlier Bashiok forum post about best class builds that led to the above info.

The debate started when a fan asked @Bashiok a couple of questions via Twitter, about best class builds.

would you ever choose not to rune a skill? #D3 design is predicated on tradeoffs, this could be robust, if not more complex. –Celibar
No, it’s always been the intent that a runed skill is superior to a non-runed skill. –Bashiok

Got it, thanks for the quick reply! Is the team concerned about a mathematically ‘best’ choice?” –Celibar
Always. But it’s not so much about there being a best, as much as “can there be many viable alternatives”. –Bashiok

Another fan took that question and plugged it into the B.net forums, and got a much longer and largely OT (in a good way) reply from Bashiok, about item farming and boss runs.

As long as there are interesting and unique choices, there will be 1 answer that people could agree is the statistical “best” choice. That’s a reality we all have to agree upon, because that’s the reality of a game that’s based on math and numbers. There will be some “right” answer, or at least one that some people think is right.

The goal is not to ensure there isn’t a right answer, that’s likely an improbably achieved goal. The goal is to ensure there is a large number of viable alternatives. Sure there may be a best that’s .01% stronger, but is the second best close enough that if someone prefers playing that they won’t feel like they’re playing wrong? It’s that gap and that idea of viability that’s more important.

If you want to compare that to assignable stats in Diablo II, there was one or two ways to correctly assign stats and there were really no viable alternatives. Any choice but those one or two right ways to spend stats and you were far, far below viable in comparison.

This is where you can argue that we could balance assignable stats so that they are balanced and viable! And I say … we have! Assignable stats are now so much more awesome because they’re based on itemization instead of as a requirement for it, and more importantly it’s way cooler to kill demons and slip on the bloody (but awesomely enhancing) armor they drop than clicking a little button.

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66 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Boss Runs = Sub Optimal Strategy

  1. I do hope they at least make bosses worth the time to kill.  Clearing out an entire act just to leave the last boss alive because he isn’t worth the time is a little depressing.  Obviously don’t make them farm worthy anymore, but at least give them something.

    • i was thinking about this too. i believe in the old debates i mentioned that bosses will just get skipped since they will take longer to kill. maybe there would be a way to increase the boss dropped loot based on how much of the act was cleared? i dont know something where like you said the boss was not pointless to kill beyond the first time

      • Leoric remains very farmable in the beta, since he usually drops 2 or 3 blues even after the first kill. Of course a lot of that is due to him being worth a ton of experience, and the fact that he’s the only monster in the beta that doesn’t die in like 3 hits, and that there’s nothing else to do for an end game…. *cough*

        But the point being that it’s fun to battle the boss that has a special presentation, shows some different traits and behaviors, adds some extra challenge, etc. And I’m sure the various Rares and Act Bosses will provide that in D3. They just won’t be by far the best way to get gear, as was the case in D2.

        • In addition to repeating the “quest” for Leoric to gain additional experience, you also get some gold for doing so as part of the quest reward. I expect that boss runs at the end-game might be a reliable source of gold for players, though it might be tricky to strike a balance between incentivizing boss runs and devaluing gold as a currency.

    • ….i kinda dont care about this……..kinda….
      i care more for the skills….and F***** waiting 1 year for a expansion to get the afixes on items….
      ….i just want a missile shotgun for my wizard and not a 3 shot 50 % damage   -( blehhhh )-
      …..but mybe its yust me and my liking of the previous patches…  QQ

  2. It would be interesting to see some actual examples of what their vision is. Hearing them talk about how awesome things will be might get some people excited, I’ve been around to hear that talk for so many other games and then seen how it ended up after having paid for it.
    In other words: Show us some gameplay past normal, because normal mode doesn’t show any of this awesomeness you keep talking about.

    • There is one thing that concerns me about the way they have it set up, and their possible vision.

      What if you find you have fun clearing a certain act, say act 3.  So you run this act for your MFing, because its fun.

      Blizzard has said, that if certain areas are run more than others, they will nerf that area.  So, what happens if they make a certain act that is really enjoyable to play/clear?  Are we just going to HAVE to go elsewhere because blizzard says so? (atleast to have better chances of item hunting)

      I really like the idea they have going, but am worried they are going to meddle with it once we all start playing.

      This is similar to the white item comment Blue made.   If you pick them up we will make them more worthless. (or explode or something) 

      • If there’s an area that isn’t optimal to farm, but people are going there anyway in large numbers, then the solution isn’t to nerf it. The solution would be to make other areas more attractive. Or to make other areas more interesting, at least.

        • Well, that’s what a “norm” would think, but we are talking about the D3 dev team, “If we find that people are still taking the time to pick up whites, we’ll devalue them even more.”, “If we see people switching builds before each unique fight, we’ll add more rune swap cooldown time”.  Gone are the “play it your way” days, or, God forbid, the nuanced solution days.

          • What in the hell are you talking about? Blizzard promised skill respecs were going to cost the player (as they should), and you’re whining about them taking a 15 second cooldown? Wtf is wrong with you?

  3. I like this approach. I also always enjoyed clearing out whole areas, rather than doing boss runs

  4. I don’t see why they would want to exclude either option, why not make boss and area runs equally rewarding? It is possible to specialize for area runs, that argument is invalid. And cooldown on gear swap in later difficulties? Come on… The lengths they have to go just to accomodate their “brilliant” commitment free skill system…

    • I guess they do not want some “boss specialized” cookie-cutter build to emerge and get all the stuff

  5. To me this sounds a lot like they’re just limiting our options. Why not just leave boss runs viable in one way or the other while still making champion pack runs the more appealing option? No reason to completely rule out one of them by something like this, some might actually enjoy doing boss runs and this is like a stab in their backs.

    • Except you can formulate strategies against boss monsters pretty easily. Then running them will be the easier thing to do, then people will just do that.

  6. First post here so hopefully it’s constructive but i’ve liked the mini blogging the site gives, much better than just regurgitating blue posts.

    There was a reply in that thread that i thought was pretty clever.

    Have champions/rares as lieutenants every time you kill one it increases the end boss/mob MF chance.  So for different quests you might have a different amount of lieutenants with varying amount of +MF for the last boss/mob in that quest chain.  You could even have a counter at the top “Killed x of y Lieutenants for x MF bonus”.

    This gives meaning back to the big bads but at the same time gives reasoning to hunt for champions/rares.   Balancing wise champions/rares would have a higher chance to drop uniques etc but with the MF bonus maxed end bosses are the best.  I think with the right balancing its the best of both worlds.

    • Maybe I’m misunderstanding you. Are you suggesting punishing players that invest more in the game, as compared to casual players?

      I think that’s a very dangerous road to travel. 

      • HC could be seen as self-punishment so I don’t get the logic here.
        I spent about half my time in HC and I wouldn’t exactly be asking for an easier experience. 

      • Not particularly but I had the feeling that people that are complaining about freespec are HC player but I may be wrong. Then I suggest a “Super Hardcode” mode where no freespec and permadeath. This will add to the aspect of “pay for your mistakes”. It is not about punishment, it is about challenge. Without freespec, it means you went through inferno with the same build all the time, not customizing it for each new champion/rare, and without dying.

        It could also be an achievement “no spec change”. Actually, the fact that you never died could be on your banner also (without replacing HC).

        • I have never bothered with HC (though I plan to try it much more in D3), and I despise free-speccing, Those two have very little to do with each other.
          Achievements for not respeccing is fine for those who want such stuff, but it wouldn’t in any way solve the potential issues of freespeccing.
          Would pretty much just be “Good job, you played the game the wrong way, here is some cosmetic bullshit for you”.

  7. ” making the swapping cooldown longer in later difficulties ”
    maybe ill even wait till i know how long this cooldown is or if it even exists before i buy the game..
    i dont see much fun in D3 if i cant do my “unique” build that requires many hours of farming. without someone seeing it and copying it in 10 seconds. and its also no fun to know that i would be stronger if i switched to skillB instead of skillA for this area of the game.
    = bring back commitment to builds or im out think 

  8. This is a good decision, I really don’t want to do another meph runs…even though I prefered running larger areas in D2, it just didn’t make any sense if you wanted to maximise the loot drops.
    And yeah, there’s been a lot of whining recently in the main posts, not sure why. The pinnacle was podcast where someone claimed that 15 seconds of threatening shout was too short.

    • Running variously different targets didn’t make sense if one wanted to maximise the loot drops? What?
      And really, you’re generalizing all main post complains as “whining” because one of them in a podcast was about a small detail you don’t care about? Ok.
      Capta reads: move over. And you should because your ineptitude opinion is embarrasing.

  9. While special boss monsters (such as the Skeleton King in the beta) will pop higher quality items for their quest drop, your character only gets that once,
    this might get magic finders to reroll to get that extra chance, in infreno if the extra MF is worth it that is. (in inferno)

  10. I love boss killing and they should drop a bit better loot because they are bosses afterall.   Every RPG in history has had bosses drop the best loot and that to me is part of the appeal.   I love farming whole levels too so if they made it so rare spawns and bosses drop the same level it would make wanting to clear the whole area worth it as well as have a reward for killing end bosses.   

    I would hate to have a diablo game that once I kill diablo I never attempt him again because it is not worth the time.   I really feel the Devs have good ideas but just fail miserably on their faces many times with their delivery. 

  11. I just thought of something..
    If boss fights are timed events that even if you do high ammounts of damage there’s still a minimum of 5 or 6 minutes per fight, it will discourage farming him for the items since you can kill 3 packs of champions in that time, but it would also make the bosses interesting for the less optimized farmers.

  12. What does this mean for random bosses who appear in specific points like the cemetery right on top of a waypoint where 0-2 bosses spawn.  Could be very easy to run these points in the game over & over like pindleskin in D2, faster than exploring like blizzard want us to.

    • I think stuff like this will be inevitable. There will always be areas where champions are more frequent and people will run there. It could also have to do with the fact that some monsters just are easier to kill then others which steers the players in a certain way.

    • Yeah, but the point, according to Wyatt, is that you won’t know what mods that monster has, so you won’t be able to prepare for it in advance.

      I think that whole preparation thing, and the mentions of retreating to respec and change your gear for a single boss, is misguided. Who would do that? If you got one boss you couldn’t easily deal with, you’d just start a new game, or waypoint to some other location and hope for a better roll. As they’ve said that Inferno will be largely flat across the 4 acts, there’s no reason to bang your head against one tricky spawn, if you’re just playing for loot.

  13. I prefer exploring all of the areas and then kill the bosses as I progress rather than just doing boss runs.

  14. “but know it’s something we can solve pretty easily, even if it’s just making the swapping cooldown longer in later difficulties.”

    How dumb can it get? 

  15. They could simply let bosses always drop higher quality items and balance that by using instanced bosss fights (not as intanced as wow of course), that way players could choose the way they would MF, by killing bosses slowly with better loot or killing normal mobs faster but with regular loot.
    PS: by regular loot I mean a regular chance to get a good item. I don’t exactly how the loot tables work in D3. AFIAK all mobs can drop the same items dropped by bosses.

  16. Haven’t we known this for a while now??  Lol.  I personally like this over the D2 “endgame” as it suites my play style and randomizes another aspect of the game that was essentially really static.  

    The one thing I’m curious about is how many rares and champion packs we’ll be seeing in a play through in comparison to boss fights.  Anecdotally it seems I’ve run into more rares and champs than bosses in a play through, but I wonder if that’s guaranteed in any manner?

  17. Nothing new. They said that a couple of times in the last 3 years already. Still great change.

    Rare champions are rare you wont find tons of them in seconds. Boss fights wont last 10 minutes and they still drop stuff.

  18. The reason why bosses in ‘every RPG in history has had bosses drop the best loot’ was for a couple reasons that just don’t exist in the Diablo franchise; generally speaking, bosses in other games only die once and are very difficult. But in Diablo, monsters respawn and the bosses are easy to figure out with little punishment for failure. And why do people insist on bitching about freespecs? The Diablo 2 model of skills was grotesque. And, to be honest, I actually would prefer something more along the lines of Diablo, where some of the most powerful abilities you have to actually find in the world. How cool would that be? Maybe a compromise, eh?

  19. This isn’t news, they said this a couple weeks ago. 
    Anyways, I like the change then and still like it now.  Boss’s will still be worth killing for XP and Loot to craft with or sell, but the way they are doing it will make the game better overall. 

  20. Why not just force all freespeccing to happen between games, once you hit 60 (or in Inferno and PvP)? And remove the swap CD entirely for leveling characters (so they could switch for free to anything at any time). That would give players with experience a reason to have another character leveling. But it would bake in the expectation in max level games that you need to rely only on the six skills you chose at the start.

  21. For me, the boss runs were the most fun part of D2. Killing Baal for the n-time and wondering what this son of a evil will drop this was always fun and exiting for me. And you did not have to run across whole map like idiot and hoping that this particular midget will drop something good. It was clean way of getting loot. For me Diablo, was always about going through tons of loot and adoring the stats they had, even if they were useless for you. I never cared about exploring the map and killing random monsters, I wanted to see the loot. I bet I am not the only one. Why not make boss runs rewarding as well as random monster killing rewarding? Players should choose what they want to do, not be constrained by devs.

    • I’m with you… I enjoyed boss runs too.., never a fan of cleaning an area of xy mobs.
      I had a friend tho that was cleaning areas while I farmed bosses and after a couple of runs we both had about same loot in worth, I got few Storm/shakos but he got VEX rune out of some xyz mob. And it was allways same… I got more medium stuff while he got one or two “big” drops.

      I really don’t see D2 as a fail game as some PPL point it out… D2 is the best game ever made and I’m sure D3 will not reach to the knee of it.

      All they do is “FIXING” stuff that was never broken! The only problem D2 has is hacks/bots. The rest of stuff is well thought out once you eliminate those 2 things. All they needed to do was upgrade what was good and not reinvent the wheel.

  22. I’ve come up with a build that can, without fail, handle any boss spawn you throw at it. Of course, I’ll never share it.

    • This attitude that people have about Diablo baffles me. Everyone treats it like a zero sum game where for one person to flourish, other people must suffer. This is simply not the case. It’s directly tied to the MF sharing for the whole party. Everyone seems to be just out for himself and that’s not the way that Blizzard want to take this game. That is one (albeit miniscule) part of WoW design that I appreciate and respect. The top loot rewards in WoW come only from co-op play. You simply cannot get as far by yourself–both in terms of content and reward. It’s much more fun to play with people who won’t knife you in the back (though, I admit, that has its appeal). The new MF rules take nothing away from you, really. Maybe at first, people will tend to ‘leech,’ but the long term will bear out not only an acceptable equilibrium (so everyone pulling their weight and pooling their MF%), but actually a more pleasant experience for all.

    • You mean the Barbarian with 15 second cooldown skill respecs?
      Yeah, i already know of that “build”.

  23. “The one question mark for a lot of people, and maybe even us, is what stops someone from seeing a pack, backing out (or dying) and swapping out to be better equipped to handle it? We agree that shouldn’t be the best way to play, but know it’s something we can solve pretty easily, even if it’s just making the swapping cooldown longer in later difficulties.”  
    Why not disable respec in later difficulties then? If it’s something they can solve pretty easily, then why don’t they just implement it now before the game is out and let beta testers test it? Otherwise not sure what they’re trying to say since they’ve allowed people respec, yet want to stop(penalise people who abuse it). They could just limit it to 15 times per difficulty.

  24. It’s interesting because the way they lay out the quests have basically already solved this problem. If D2 was like D3 it would take like 20 minutes to do a Meph run because you’d have to reassemble Khalim’s Will again. Plus there’s no enigma, teleport for the Wiz is on cooldown, and players have run speeds more similar to D1 than D2. Guess they want to be super sure.

    • Although it would be funny to have an Enigma on a Barb… “Teleport uses 10 fury per cast”  🙄

  25. Love the idea of farming mini-bosses. Used to do similar runs in D2 prior to finishing off the boss in the act.

  26. “You’re not going up against a boss where you know “Build A” is the best way to minmax against it because it has abilities and resistances X, Y, and Z. What is the best build vs. an “Arcane Enchanted, Teleporter, Frozen, Knockback” skeleton pack? Got that figured out?”

    Wait a moment… town portal… just switching to a new skills/build… 15, 14, 13 …1… town portal… OK. I’m ready for that dude… I’m laughing at you, Blizzard.

  27. This post makes me extremely happy.  I tend to play D2 builds that are generalists and good at clearing areas.  It’s just more fun.  But if I want runes?  Run Countess over and over.  Want decent items?  Run Mephisto over and over.  Teleport is worth vastly more than being a  jack of all trades, and it’s extremely bland.

    Anything that makes Diablo 3 less repetitive and more varied is GREAT.  Hats off to the D3 developers. 

  28. Similar concerns here. The thinking behind that first blue post makes me shake my head. Longer cool downs? Really. How bloody aggravating. Im fine with auto stats and the skill/rune system. And managing monster affixes and boss dropa sounds really good. But if they are actively trying to diversify the areas and monsters players spend their time in/on, why then punish players for modifying how they play in that system?? If I run a group of monsters and slay the boss, and the next group will test me in different ways, doesn’t Blizzard want me adjust how I play (ie what skills and items I use)? Isn’t that the point? So why have cool down times at all? They want us spending our time playing the game yet force us to wait to use the variety of skills available. Anyway, the fun of the game and what I am looking forward to most is killing much any monsters/bosses I can find and gathering all the loot they drop. All the silly little game mechanics that slow that down will make it that much less enjoyable and that much easier to stop playing. Hopefully that concern won’t eventuate in the final game cause I am really looking forward to it. 

    • I think the design intent, here, is clear: we don’t want you swapping skills mid-fight. Blizzard want us to try and fail, make adjustments, then try again. Your criticisms are right on point, and I think there’s got to be a more elegant solution than a cool down. I suggest that you only be able to swap skills when out of combat, or at a waypoint, or in town, or something like that.

  29. It should be worth the player’s while to kill the big bosses. Otherwise people will just kill them once and then skip them.

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