Flux’s Decahedron #1: The Ten Worst Monster Types


The Ten Worst D2X Monster Types

There are a lot of monsters in the five acts of Diablo II: Lord of Darkness.  Or possibly Lord of Death.  Or maybe Destruction.  I can never remember.

Anyway, there are a lot of monsters, but some are worse than others.  Here are the ten worst types of monsters.  These are monster types, not individuals.  Look for a future list to cover SuperUniques and Act Bosses.  Next week I’ll list the Top Ten Monster Types. List is based on monsters as of January 2003, v1.09.

#10: Spike Fiends
Dozens of these porcupine-like creatures can be found waddling around outside the Rogue Encampment, filling the same purpose for a new D2 character as spoonfuls of strained creamed spinach do for a baby; you don’t want to eat them, and they don’t taste very good, but you need them to grow up big and strong.  These creatures are valuable teachers despite their annoying nature, for they quickly instruct the new player that he or she need pay no heed to earthly-physics.  You can beat spiky monsters to death with your bare hands while taking no damage (really, hitting one should hurt more than their puny ranged quill toss does), and a monster the size of a ferret in a rain coat can drop a six foot polearm when it dies.

In the early game versions (pre-release) there were much fiercer versions of these monsters in later acts, including a cool Miami Vice-colored one in early Act Three that was called a Jungle Urchin.  Get it?  “Urchin”, like the spiky things in tide pools that you can poke and hope they aren’t the poisonous kind that will kill you in under thirty seconds? Clever name.  Jungle Urchins didn’t make the final game though; they had to be removed to open up another slot for Fetish, I suppose.

#9: Vampires
This applies mostly to the Act One types, who can’t do anything of use.  They have Fireballs, and they move way faster than you’d like them to, especially when they have a sliver of health left and you’re trying to get that last hit and whiffing like Michael Jordan at a Double-A curveball.  But all they have are Fireballs.  Fireballs that do about 3 points of damage.  Did they leave their Firewalls and Meteors in their other pants or what? They are annoying, but not so annoying that you feel any real need to kill them, rather than just running past them as you try to find the damn stairs down.

Once you get to Act 2 they have Firewalls in addition to Fireballs, but the Firewalls are barely hot enough to roast a marshmallow over.  Plus they still don’t have Meteors.  They did pre-game, but Blizzard removed that since it would have possibly added some actual challenge to Act 2, and we couldn’t have that.  The only challenge allowed in Act Two is of the potentially instant death type, which comes in the form of the Summoner’s frequently-invisible Firewall or Duriel’s charge attack.  Whee.

#8: Fetish
Depending on your character, these guys are experience pots, or a more annoying than fleas to a three-legged hound.  Your first sighting of them is probably in the Act One Catacombs, where they go by the name of Rat Men.  We’re going to overlook those though, for they are too dark to see clearly in the perpetually gloomy Catacombs, and they move much more slowly, and lack shaman.

Anyway, the first sighting of Fetish is sort of cool.  These hordes of angry midgets with more teeth than a piano and butcher knives bigger than they are, charging at you with squeals of glee in early Act Three. And it’s sort of fun when you get huge mobs in the Flayer Jungle.  but again, this depends on your character.  A Bowazon with decent Multishot eats them up like popcorn.  Any character with a single hit and no ranged attack, such as a pre-WW Barb or pre-Fury Druid wants to run far away, but there is no escape!  They are faster than you, and swarm!  Plus the one you target to hit will invariably run away, causing you to chase it through approximately fifty-seven of its closest friends.  They don’t do enough damage to be much of a threat, other than being so frustrating that you throw your monitor through the wall.  And I haven’t even mentioned the perpetually tormenting pinpricks of the blow dart variety.

#7: Death Maulers
A great name for a lame monster.  “Death Maulers” sounds like a pair of Austrian pro wrestlers (who are actually two steroid-inflated guys from Iowa with bad fake accents).  They should have long white hair and wear costumes with vague Nazi overtones, while always losing the Intercontinental Title bout at the last minute when their cheating backfires on them. As for the D2X monster, they are pretty lame.  They look nifty, but they move at the speed of slow, and their big attack is some sort of hand tongue thing that goes underground and comes up to poke at your feet, sometimes dealing as much as 8 or even 10 points of damage.  Plus they can shoot their hand tongue things through open space or magically over the pungi-spike pits all around the Bloody Run zone.  Why don’t they just walk up and shoot that thing right through you?  Sorceress belly is softer than ground, after all.  Wasted opportunity.

#6: Fallen
These guys are initially pretty cute.  They make funny noises and talk to themselves (if you can refrain from killing them for more than a three seconds) and they die with an exaggerated spinning flop, like a stuntman pretending Steven Segal just smacked him with a flabby forearm.  The problem is that there are approximately 17 varieties of them in Act One, all through the magic of palette-shifting, and every single kind does the exact same thing.  Over and over again.  By the time you get to the Catacombs you think you are clear but no, there are black Fallen, all the better to blend into the floor and walls so you can’t even see the goddamned things.  And then more Fallen, all over Andarial’s Throne Room.  What’s the point in being the Maiden of Anguish if you’ve got to sit in your throne room all day with fricking Fallen “Rrrrakishu”‘ing at each other 24/7?  She’s probably happy to get banished back to hell, by the time you arrive.

#5: Lightning Spire/Fire Tower
These animate inanimate objects are here to annoy.  Their damage isn’t enough to bother with, they are worth miniscule experience points, and they drop nothing.  So why exactly are they here again?  Other than to distract your minions in the Arcane Sanctuary, I mean. Once in a very long while you’ll get a fire turret inside one of the Act 2 tombs, and that’s sort of cool, for the five seconds it takes you to run past it.  Note that this entry does not include the Gargoyle Statue Fireball things in Act One, since they look cool, and anything is an improvement over the Vampires, zombies, and black Fallen in the Catacombs.

#4: Pain Worm
These guys appear first thing in Act Three, summoned by the Dark Wanderer, and again in Act Four where they are shat forth by spawners.  Those versions are cool, surprisingly-nasty and hard-hitting, plus they look like really skinny versions of the demons the Dark Wanderer calls forth in the cinematic.  The Pain Worms are not cool.  They are glowing versions that appear in Act Five, grown as parasites on the bodies of other monsters stung by Putrid Defilers.  The whole concept is pretty clever, but they and the Defilers are so weak it’s just annoying as they flit about during the battles in Act Five.  And come on, “pain worms”?  What the hell kind of name is that?  It sounds like something you have to get your dog a shot for when he’s been doing too much tootsie crunching.

#3: Swarm
These are undoubtedly the stupidest monsters in the game.  Discrete swarms of gnats that buzz around and drain your stamina, along with almost zero hit points.  More over, how the hell do you kill a swarm of bugs with a sword, or better yet, an arrow?  Go outside on a summer night and try that one.  Oh, I know, they’re magic bugs, from a distant, fairytale land of giants and jackalopes and transsexual princes(ses).  Any monster that could be more effectively disposed of with a can of Raid than a Windforce is an embarrassment to the game; end of debate.

#2: Sand Leapers
This has to be the most annoying monster type ever.  Hopping little glorified crickets, they take one hit and bounce back, invulnerable for a moment.  You either have to chase them around like a Vaseline-coated beach ball, or try to pin them against a wall and beat them to death quickly.  Plus they’re fast enough to pursue and annoy you with their squealing and tiny damage attacks until you are forced to kill them.  Or just hit them with a Frost Nova and run for it.  We won’t mention the ones you often find in the first area of Act Four, since they are part of the “One ridiculously weak yet still annoying monster per area” pattern you see in so much of the game.

#1: Imps
No, I couldn’t go the whole way without mentioning Imps.  There is not a person alive who has played Act Five and not grown to hate these things.  They pop all about, shoot squiggly sperm-missile things, deal almost no damage, and generally defy capture.  Their one moment of glory comes when they spring to a turret or the back of a Siege beast (usually a boss imp you were chasing who had about two hps left) and spew forth a glorious Inferno, but their joy is generally cut short by the player running right past them as quickly as possible, wondering why he’s in the Frigid Highlands or Frozen Tundra in the first place.  You’ll also find them on the Worldstone Three level, but there they are sort of useful since they teleport out of your way as you dash through, dodging Blood Lords on the way down to Baal.

Feedback

Thanks to all who mailed about this column.  I had over 70 emails on it, and authors always enjoy feedback on their work.

This list, and the others to come, are not meant to be scientific position papers.  It’s not as if I’ll be crunching damage-over-time and foot speed to exactly determine which monster is the nastiest; the whole purpose of the list is to be entertaining and somewhat quirky.  Spurring debate is fine.

The monsters people voted to add to this list, with the number of emails commenting on each and the act they were most commented on:
[LIST=1]
[*]Undead Stygian Dolls (Act Three) – 7
[*]Suicide Minions (Act Five) – 7
[*]Anything Immune to Physical – 4
[*]Flying Scimitars (Act Two) – 3
[*]Sand Maggots (Act Two/Four) – 2
[*]River Serpents (Act Three) – 1
[*]Blood/Moon Lords (Act Five) – 1
[*]Greater Mummies (Act Two) – 1
[*]Glooms (Act Three) – 1
[*]Zombies (Act One) – 1
[*]Rot Walkers (Act Five) – 1
[*]Death Knights (Act Four) – 1
[*]Dung Beetles (Act Two) – 1
[*]Frozen Scourges (Act Five) – 1
[*]Trapped Souls (Act Five) – 1
[*]Giant Spiders (Act One) -1
[*]Stranglers (Act Four) – 1
[*]Minions of Lag (Bnet) – 1
[/LIST]
I was surprised that three people mentioned flying scimitars.  I wouldn’t really have thought of those as monsters; they’re chest traps in my mental dictionary.  I also thought most people liked them; they’re rare enough to be fun when you see them, and are certainly better than another wimpy firebolt or nova from a creaking chest.  But obviously someone, three someones, doesn’t like them.

The main topic of debate in the emails was what exactly “worst” means.  Being as I didn’t define my terms in any way, I can hardly blame you.  My concept of this ranking page was worst in terms of evoking a sort of, “that’s just lame.” reaction in the player.  Annoying, out of place, silly, etc.  I didn’t give lethality a lot of weight, since I don’t hold murder against the monsters. After all, that’s what they’re there for.  As you’ll see by next week’s list of Top Ten Monsters, I even award bonus points for monster success.

The most common suggestions for inclusion on this list were the exploding minions of Worldstone 1, and undead fetish dolls of the Durance of Hate.  In both cases, it was because they can actually kill you.  But as I said a moment ago, isn’t that the point?  Yes, it’s annoying when you get one-hit killed, but if the monster that does the killing is known for that and looks the part, I don’t have any real objection.  For example, if a Corrupted Rogue could occasionally hit you for 500 damage, and the rest of the time it did 3, that would be horrible.  Random, unfair, and stupid.  How could they do so much damage once in a while?  But since you know the fetish dolls explode and do huge damage, (or you learn it damn quickly) I’m okay with that.

Two things that surprised me in email.  No one asked what “decahedron” meant, and no one jumped all over the opening paragraph where I pretended to not know what LoD actually stood for.  You all make me very proud.

A number of readers pointed out that I should have included screenshots of each monster, both for the artistic presentation and to jar their rusty memories, and they have a good point.  I considered it before posting the column, but didn’t want to take the extra time to run through the game and take a ton of screenies to get a good angle, then crop and save them all, and insert here.  Especially since I knew I’d have to do it again a week later for the Top Ten monsters.  You know you’re getting tired of the same old D2X when you begin to look for excuses to not play. I eventually took a bunch of screenies for next week’s column, and stuck them in this one while I was at it.

A few reader quotes.

A couple of people took the opportunity to ask about the mysterious Reziarfg.  Luke, for one.

Your column was very good, but I have a question that isn’t related to that. You were talking about monsters, and I remembered checking out Arreat Summit’s bestiality and I noticed a creature called a Reziarfg. What the heck is this thing? I have never seen it in the game, nor heard it mentioned anywhere. I can only assume it was never included, or possibly the code is in the game but not active? It looks very badass, though, and would be a great addition to the upcoming patch. Anyway, do you know the story behind this interesting critter?

First thing, “bestiality” isn’t quite what you see in Diablo II. At least not in the version I have. You’re more likely to see that unsolicited in your inbox.  Secondly, we get mails asking Reziarfg from time to time. It’s just a little inside joke on the Bliz website, and not in the game. One of the Bliz web designers is Geoff Fraizer, and G. Fraizer spelled backwards is…  There isn’t any monster or version of GF’s name in the game, just on the website.

Dysbok shares his feelings about the suicide minions. This was a common email theme.

Okay, Okay, I can get behind most of your choices, although sand leapers top my charts, followed by one you didn’t mention…. The Palestinian Demon.

Yep, those annoying suicide bombers in act 5 Worldstone Keep or whipped to a frenzy by the Overlords earlier in Act 5. They can be very annoying as a sorceress running around a corner and smack dab into the middle of a Hamas bus bombing, its rare to escape with anything but a 1/10th full health globe. True they dont do a whole lotta damage to my Paladin but the annoyance factor is supreme.


While there was a lot of agreement with Imps being the most annoying monsters, I could have gone with Swarm and probably had the peoples’ choice.  At least ten mails ranted about the damn things. Shadowtwin hits the nail on the head.

I came upon my first swarm. I used my fifty-pound, 4 foot long hammer, and I killed those flies! It really only took a couple of swings. I then thought about the same thing you mentioned, that it is a fantasy world, but, come on! I bet that if you made a hammer out of a piece of wood the size of a five gallon pail, then put it on a 3 foot handle, NO ONE could kill even 1 fly with it. I mean the weight would make it so slow that the flies would have to be suicidal to not try to get away—not to mention that the amount of air it is pushing ahead of it would probably blow the flies out of the way anyway—That is, after all, why flyswatters have holes in them. AND it is not like I was smashing them between my maul and a surface. No, no, I was just whacking them out of the sky! I mean, really, even your car has to reach a certain speed before the bug splatters on the windshield as opposed to bouncing off.

That made me think about one other thing. They still have a vitality bar… So I guess it comes down to opinion… Are you really hitting every fly in the swarm, with the same amount of damage, every time you swing? Or do you pick them off one by one? Let me tell you what.. It would suck to be that last fly that was still flying around carrying an armor that was like 6 billion times its on body weight!! No wonder he was suicidal..

More Swarm contemplation from SpanGi.

Getting to the point, I do have to correct something about “Swarms”.. On Hell, they are Immune to Physical, which finally gave SOME meaning to their strange way of being “a” monster, but well.. who plays act3 at hell..? *silence*

And well.. to talk about the matters of being able to hit a Swarm.. Try some spells, let’s say a Glacial Spike. If we ignore the fact that it would be hard to hit any of them and cause a icy “explosion”, because the “windforce” (haha) would actually blow them away, due to their light weight, let’s say we hit a Swarm with such Spike. They Freeze.. and stay in the air. Someone forgot the gravity here? Have u ever seen an icecube fly in midair, and stay at the exact same place without moving one bit? No..? And oh, just two more things.. how are they able to suck the mana out of you in the matter of 2 seconds, while you’re fully armor-plated.. Aren’t there about 50 in such a Swarm? .. and where did they hide that Tower Shield?

A good point from Ian.

Very amusing article! When I first saw the swarms in Act 2, I thought it was 1986 and I was playing 720 again.

“SKATE OR DIE! ! !”

I loved that game, back when I was a little skateboarding grommit myself. When Elly, Gaile, and I got to play D2 pre-game at Blizzard North in December 1999, I recall thinking how silly Swarm were. The Blizzard North guys I talked to about them felt the same way, for much the same reasons that Shadowtwin mentions here.  It’s just silly to have a swarm of gnats that you can kill with a weapon.  I mean are they all psychically linked or what?  At the time, the Bliz guys seemed to think that the Swarm would probably be removed from the game in final balancing.  Obviously they weren’t, which means that someone higher up liked them and kept them over the objections of the majority.  I blame Brocklanders, personally, but that’s just a safe bet any time.

Here’s a quote from a long mail from a Daniel, a Necromancer player rating his most/least favorite monsters to Revive.

[LIST]
[*]Here are my favorites.

[*]Act 1 non archer rogues, goatmen, and tainted, wraith/ghost (immune physical)
[*]Act 2 Swarm (immune physical), Cats (non potion slinger), Scarab daemon, vultures
[*]Act 3 Council members (while doing Mephesto runs), willowisps.
[*]Act 4 Most are ok here, but Oblivian knights rule!!
[*]Act 5 Death mauler (they deal out good physical damage while being immune to what the other creatures in the area use), Blood Lord (best in the game because he uses frenzy, has good AI, is fast AND has better than average defense and HP)

Here are the ones that I never raise up.
[*]Act 1 Fallen, blood hawk, fetish (these spend to much time running away), fallen shaman, spike fiend, skeleton archer/mage (these are too slow), zombie, wendigo, (these are too slow but make great CE bombs)
[*]Act 2 Leaper (can’t raise them anyway), Sand maggot, mummy, greater mummy (too slow, but make great CE bombs), bats (spend to much flying hither and thither).
[*]Act 3 Fetish shaman (slow), fetish (get into the fight and stay there dammit!! low hp)
[*]Act 4 Regergetators (they steal your corpses), any type of offspring (low hp, their “mothers” are ok though)
[*]Act 5 Overseer, siege beast (to slow, but make great CE bombs), reanimated horde (WAY to slow), putrid defiler (can’t raise them anyway), pain worm (low hp).
[/LIST]

An email from Eternal Commander with his theory on why some monsters are dopey.

I think the demons Blizzard makes are an indication of the stress. The worse the monster, the worse the demon-manager director-guy felt at the moment. Or maybe that guy didn’t have the cash to pay for his next monthly rent, so he had to finish it all quickly, I don’t know. Bet that’s one of the closest kept secrets of Blizz.

Imagine how frustrated the demon-manager had to be when he made those sand leapers, and I bet his dog died the day he made the Imps. Why the heck am I writing Imp with an capital i? Not worth it, period.

Solarus offered an interesting “should I be in this difficulty level yet?” zombie-calibration gauge.

I would like to point out that you did not even mention zombies. zombies are the most useless and stupid monster class i have ever dealt with. if one actually gets hit by a zombie, let alone dies to one, then one has a really, really pitiful defense rating. whether or not spike fiends are bad, they are the first monsters to hit a new character, because zombies hit once every 5 tries, and if they get off 5 attacks without you killing them, then you’re either not meant to be in that difficulty level, or your character is absolutely terrible, or you’re on pot, or a combination of two of the above, or all three.


Reader feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and with this and my T-day story posted the next day, I pretty much sat around all weekend reading love letters. Of course I do that every weekend, but usually I have to write them myself, so this was nice for a change.

Humor was the goal, so this sort of mail from Ben is gratifying. There were lots of them like this.

I just have one thing to say….

That was absolutely HILARIOUS! LOL

Your list was totally accurate and not to mention… you managed to make me squirt coke out of my nose more than once in your article. Keep up the good work, as you have definitely earned a weekly reader from me.


Not every mail was positive, and being a writer, I of course spend 10x more thought on ones who didn’t like something than those who did. Here’s Siaon.

Just had to reply, somehow your worst monster article seemed really bad to me in comparison what you have written before.

So does he mean in comparison to things I do here like FAQs and Strategy Guides, and he wanted a serious listing of monsters?  Or does he mean in comparison to the fiction I’ve done on this site and he wanted a story?  I didn’t mail him to ask, it would have been way too anal.  (Unlike, posting it and asking the same question where 30,000 times more people will read it.)

Another one that’s a mixed message, from Gregor.

Having read your article, I aquired the view that the author, i.e. you, is desperately trying to be witty while failing to do so in an ironically amusing manner.

Therefore, I want to thank you for an amusing 5 Minutes that raised my moods considerably after having my iron-man-raised lvl 74 hardcore amazon killed by duriel in hell this morning. By the way, almost all the monsters you mentioned are of no annoyance to me, since I mostly play the reaper-of-the-wimpy-bowazon-build. In my opinion, the worst type of creatures in D2X are the players, but that’s just me and my cynicism.

I’ll close with the most positive email… well, pretty much ever. From Orlic:

Dear Flux,

I rarely if even compliment a writer on their writing, seeing as I believe Milton to be the best of all writers and his style and ability has, as of yet, never been duplicated or even touched since his time, or even before his time, but you are a great writer, not a Milton, yet, but a great writer, and this is reflected in your last installment on monster types. Even though I disagree with you on a few points, I am impressed with your sense of voice and style. Well done, sir. I, even though I have put my D2X hat on the proverbial hat rack, and I will take it down again and put it on, have given up the wonderful game, still find your articles engaging and interesting.

Afterward
Having read all of the emails, and looked over this column again, I’m relatively satisfied with it.  Pain worms are the only one I’d change, and they’re more annoying than “worst”.  I’ll finish a battle in the Worldstone or Halls, and try to move on, and find my merc and minions staying behind, trying to hit… something.  Some little slug-sized thing with arms that one should be able to simply squash.  Bleh.
Anyway, I should move Pain Worms down to about #9, or possibly off the list entirely, and include some sort of dead-raising Shaman, most likely Greater Mummies.  When you’re first in Act Two with a new character, especially one who is lacking in cold damage/skills, those guys are simply maddening.  Not dangerous, just annoying, especially if you get an all undead tomb with wraiths, zombies, and greater mummies with their skeleton entourage.  Nothing stays down.

True, that’s what Greater Mummies are supposed to do, but it’s so annoying without being deadly that they deserve a ranking.  Say #8 or so…


Flux?s Decahedron was written by Flux during 2002-2004, and hosted by Diabloii.net. These irreverent, often rude “Top 10” columns tweaked every aspect of the game and community, pioneered the humorous “Top 10” listing of game features during the eternal v1.09 patch era, were excessively long, and incorporated extensive reader feedback. They may or may not return for Diablo III.

The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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