Flux’s Decahedron #2: The Ten Best Monster Types


The Ten Best Monster Types

Thanks to reader feedback from my last column, I’m now sure that D2X is actually called Diablo II Expansion: Lord of Darkness.  Or possibly Destruction, no one was quite sure about the “D”.  I was informed that the game was sold as “Lord of Distruction” in New Zealand. But that’s not important right now.

What is important is this column, which is a companion to the last one.  Last time I listed the ten worst monsters in Diablo II: Lord of Dark…striction.  This time I’m going to list the ten best, determined just as objectively and rationally as the worst ten were. Again, these are types of monsters, not individuals.  A future list will rank the SuperUniques and Act Bosses.

Since most of the email confusion about the last column was due to my failing to define “worst”, I’ll get that out of the way right now.  These are the “best” monsters, which means: Ones with cool features, cool looks, dirty tricks, and that I could think of something funny to say about. They aren’t the easiest to kill, or the ones that drop the best items; they are the ones I like best, for whatever reason.  Lethality is not a bad feature on a monster.  Killing your smelly human *** is their whole purpose in life, after all. Should the very few who manage to occasionally do so be penalized for it?

(Dis)Honorable Mention #1: Succubi

They aren’t actually any good in D2X, but they get an honorable mention since they were so cool in Diablo I, missing from D2C, and then returned in D2X… only to suck.  They were ranged attackers of doom in D1, firing Bloodstars from miles off screen, and they had the most annoying habit of running (well, walking) away just as you got close enough to hit them.  And they didn’t stop, unlike the stupid ranged attackers in D2X; they’d keep going until a wall stopped them. This habit was only partially redeemed by them having the cutest butts yet sighted in the land of Sanctuary. (Yes, cuter than the D1 Rogue, or the Amazon in light leather, or even the Paladin in those tight green pants. *cough*)

They were missed in D2C, and there was rejoicing when their D2X return was announced.  Rejoicing that lasted right up until they were seen in the game.  Talk about beat with the nerf stick.  Bloodstar is negligible now, they are slow to fire them, they don’t run, they have a ridiculously-weak karate kick to the head attack, and they aren’t even hot anymore.  The only improvement is their ability to use their wings for something more than a Victoria’s Secret runway accessory.  Not that they actually fly anymore than it requires to cross a frozen stream and get in range of your sword. Better they had remained dust in the catacombs beneath Tristram, than to return and suffer such an ignoble fate.

Honorable Mention #2:  Sand Maggot Young

I’ll admit that this one is probably open to debate.  They were glorious enough in D2C that I want to include them, but they are much less interesting in D2X.

You first see them in Act Two where they are pretty pointless, though occasionally you get a boss pack of Sand Maggots in a big game in such an egg-laying frenzy that their progeny become numerous enough to impress.  However it’s really not until Act Four that they come into their own.  One of the great joys of D2C was the very early days when the young counted as real monsters, and were worth experience and dropped items proportionally.  An MS’ing Bowazon could let them hatch, and then simply fill the screen with items in a moment of shooting.  Of course that was back when bows did base +1 damage, no matter what the listed mods were, so it might be a rather long moment of shooting.

Even after that, I have fond memories of later D2C days and River of Flame runs, heading for the Chaos Sanctuary where the hordes of HC Lancebarbs feared to WW, and finding entire pathways through the River of Flame Causeway that were literally paved with Sand Maggot Young.  The strafe machine gun action there (this was long before the days of Piercing Guided or 10 shot Strafe caps) was glorious to behold.  You could type out entire messages to other players and have a drink of Dr. Pepper in the time it took you to unload one Strafe. The Indians of their land, Strafezons use every part of the arrow.

#10: Corrupted Rogues

Not as fun in the game as in concept, especially in the tiggle-bitty concept art where you can see the glory of their mutated, spike-encrusted bodies clearly.  They are the rogues of the Citadel, mutated into evil monsters by the power of Andariel.  Odd that Andariel had all that power and slaying ability before you arrived, but once you’re there she sits down in level four of the Catacombs and waits for you to come and kill her.

At least continuity is preserved by her evil rogues being just like the good rogues you can hire; weak like kittens and about as difficult to kill.  Pity there’s no “tie them in a sack and throw them off a bridge” option, eh?  No, I didn’t really just say that.

#9: Blunderbores

These hulking punching bags first appear in Act Two, but in limited numbers.  They don’t have quite enough hit points, for as soon as you start pounding them they drop dead.  But while they last, they are such fun to pummel.  Fists, swords, maces, or arrows, pretty much any attack will tear them up in a flood of “Uuuhh!” sound effects.  They even have a great jerking in pain animation as you slaughter them, and then when they inevitably drop dead, they go down with a crash and a glorious spurt of blood from their fat bellies.  Plus their clubs are dead guys, wrapped in chains.  You have to admire that sort of attention to detail.

#8: Yeti

These Bigfoot style guys first appear in Act One, where they introduce you to the exquisite pleasures of the “***** slap”, delivered by their table-sized hands.  They also have a big overhead two-fisted crushing attack, like a cartoon gorilla, but their main fun is the ***** slap.  They have no weapons.  They need no weapons.  The Act Five variety have mastered the backhand slapping motion to the point that they can stun lock your merc pretty much in perpetuity. Ironic that they look like Bigfoot, yet are famous for their Bighand.

A bonus point should be awarded for how much they look like comfy sofas once they are dead.  Comfy sofas with tiny feet. You can tear through a huge pack of these guys and make the level look like a furniture show room.  I think we all know what Anya’s living room is carpeted with.

#7: Tentacle Beasts

These river dwellers were one of the most-anticipated monsters in the game, back in the pre-beta days.  If you can believe it.  We were all giddy to see them in action, picturing them leaping from the water in a mackerel-begging frenzy, like the star attraction at the Seal and Otter show. Or perhaps slithering up onto the surface and biting at our ankles, or dragging our hapless characters into the water where they’d crush us to jelly in their steely coils.  Things didn’t quite work out as hoped.  They do have that cool dual tail feature, or possibly there is a another type of Tentacle Beast that has no head, just a tail.  The fact that they don’t appear to actually have any tentacles is a minor quibble.

#6: Council Members

Take a close look at these guys next time.  They’ve got mutations that make Corrupted Rogues jealous.  With their deformed half animal upper bodies, like look like they were grafted together from the top half of a werewolf and the bottom half of a linebacker.  They have one huge horn, make great noises, and their one mutated animal arm is way longer than the human one. Pity you can hardly see the details in the few pixels allotted them.

In action they shamble about hooting and snarling, and can run off and heal themselves in most annoying fashion, usually when they are Immune to Physical and you had them down to a sliver.  Bremm was the terror of the entire game in D2, with his Lightning Enchantment and Conviction, so of course he changed to Cold Enchanted in D2X, making him a relatively easy kill most of the time.  Not that anyone slows down long enough to do so, on their way to the item-o-matic that is Mephisto.

#5: Overseers

There’s a lot to recommend about these guys.  They lack any practical attack of their own, but they spawn with hordes of minions, and can make them actually annoying if they get that swirly thing (Attract) over your head and they all decided to target you to the exclusion of your tanking minions/merc.  Plus they have whips and super bondage gear costumes, and they die with that glorious “skin first, then bones” animation.

They get a bonus point for making Minions, normally one of the more boring monsters in the game, momentarily terrifying.  Providing you don’t have a tank to hide behind.

#4: Goatmen

Goatmen!  Goatman!  Goatmans?  Anyway, they’re like goats, but they’re also men.  With bad posture.  What do they use for weapons?  Big damn polearms and mauls.  I mean what else would a goat use?  I personally would have given them “head butt” and “eat tin can” attacks, but that’s probably why I don’t work for Blizzard North.  They make perhaps the best noises in the entire game when they’re getting the crap beaten out of them, plus you can flash back to the ever-amusing “Something for you, I am ma-a-a-a-aking.” Gharbad of Diablo I fame.  I live to kill goatmen with my Hork Baba, and as I stand astride their corpse, watching the river of fleas crawling away I shout, “Something from you, I am ta-a-a-a-king!” and rip out their spleen.

I realize that if you didn’t play Diablo I single player any you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about, but that’s your problem. I don’t know why we let you dirty animals in here in the first place, frankly.

#3: Corpse Spitters

Big anteater looking things, these guys waddle around snorfing up monster corpses and spitting bloody chunks out at you.  You just can’t fail to appreciate that on some level. Unless of course you’re a new parent, in which case you get to see projectile vomiting in real life a bit too often to enjoy it in a game. Pity Blizzard didn’t make them emaciated, or I could insert some Ally McBeal diet plan jokes.

Their best trick was back when they could eat your dead merc and render them impossible to resurrect, thus vanishing any equipment you’d put on the merc.  There were brief “feature or bug” arguments about this when it was first discovered, though Blizzard soon admitted it was a bug and fixed it in the next patch.  But for a brief moment, the Corpse Spitters had real power to frighten.  Plus they make a lot of really gross sound effects, and occasionally eat an entire tortured soul lightpost, a meal several times the size of the Corpse Spitter itself.  Gulp.

#2: Hell Bovines

Try and put their current exp-treadmill status out of your mind, and remember back when they were mythical and mysterious and new.  Your first trip into the cow level was probably full of laughter and joy, like a three year old’s Christmas morning.  Cows definitely have the best sound effects in the game, and you can tell the Blizzard guys had fun crowding into a sound booth to say, “Moo” over and over again, in their silliest voices.

Cows are somewhat like Goatmen in their weapon selection.  Both like the huge two-handed choppers, and with cows there is the added absurdity of their lack of opposable thumbs.  Go stick each of your hands into a pickle jar, and try to pick up a broomstick.  You might want to remove the pickles and funky green water first.  Now you’re a cow.  Moo, damnit.

#1: Oblivion Knights

The first two types, found in the City of the Damned and River of Flame are painful, with their elemental attacks.  But they can’t Curse.  The third type, found only in the Chaos Sanctuary, have that rare ability, and it gives them the title for nastiest monster in the game, in the opinion of most melee characters.  Their Cursing and homing projectile attacks are totally unique among monsters.  There are rumors of a type of playable character with similar attacks, but since no one I know has ever actually seen one of these fabled “necromancers” on Battle.net, we can’t really take the rumors seriously.

Oblivion Knights, while frequently lethal and difficult to kill, were a great help to Amazons back in D2C, since only the threat of IM kept the hordes of overpowered WW barbs from overrunning the Chaos Sanctuary as greedily as they did every other area of Act Four. Several of my fondest memories from D2C involve seeing an item-hogging Lancebaba go down in one ill-timed spin, moments after screaming that anyone in the River of Flame was going to be PK’ed, because it was “his” area.

My only real regret was that it was impossible to talk once you were Hardcore dead in D2C, so I didn’t get to hear the IM’ed Babas blame their death on lag.  De Seis is still the hardest monster in the game for most characters, and if you’ve been around a while you may remember when he had Thief as a property, and could steal potions from your belt.  Now that was cool.  So of course it was removed next patch.

Feedback

Most readers liked this column as much as the first one, though I heard from fewer people about it.

TripleM finally clears up what exactly “LoD” stands for:

The Expansion set is called Diablo 2 Lord of Destruction just to let you know nice work on the columns


There was still some confusion about what exactly “best” meant.  I had several emails asking how I could think Corrupted Rogues and Goatmen were actually dangerous.  One reader included a point by point commentary on the entire top ten.  I kid you not.

#10 corrupted rogues
Wow i didn’t expect that at all. The corupted rogues are definitely not one of the best monsters in the game, how could they be? id say i would rank them close to the last, they don’d do very much damage, although better then the zombie, they are not powerful and there especially not able to survive one multiple arrow shot from a zons buriza(although in some very rare cases, one did with my zon, i was shocked). They are needed for a low levels expierience (actually crucial) but they stll are weak, and dont have a single chance of killing a level 70+(the highest level they could probably kill is maybe 15 if there lucky)So how did they get in the top ten list?

#9 blunderbore
I’m kind of confused with this, do you mean all creatures that look like them, or just blunderbores in general? If you meant just blunderbores, well then i have to disagree. Blunderbores are only good to low levels these days, and easy to kill as you have said(I believe they where meant to kill you by just stunning you and rendering you unable to attack, but as it goes the stun length is almost nothing, it’s gone by the time you have finished flying back)so really they lack the power to survive(blizzard[or blizzard north forgive any mistakes]just didnt want to make the game impossible i guess, if they did have decent hit points they would be feared). If your talking about the guys that look like blunderbores(our first impression of the big guys with dead people wrapped in chains was the name”blunderbore” so therefore we just cant get it out of our mind)then your a little closer to the truth, but still i wouldn’t have put them on the list. They still can be killed easily, and are basically an enhanced version to make up for the fact that you have gottem more powerful, so there just as easy to kill as when you where in normal act 2. These guys definitely dont belong on the list.

And so on… for the entire list… plus the (dis)honorable mentions.  I think it violates some sort of space/time continuum when feedback is longer (*though less burdened by punctuation) than the original article itself? This is why you should always read the introduction…

A comment from last week by Lucas.

P.S. I think what the Fallen are actually saying is “Rakanishu!” who is the named Fallen guarding the Tristam Stones in the Stony Field. Not sure if I got the spelling exactly right, but you get the drift.  They are really obsessed with the guy. Rakanishu!

This is exactly what they say, as well as “Bishibosh” their other SuperUnique hero.  It sounds like “beee-sheee-BOSH!” when they say it; listen some time. Apparently they hold their own type up as demigods, and that’s why I mentioned Andariel being ready to go back to hell by the time you show up to kill her.  Obviously I wasn’t entirely clear with what I meant.

As for column #2, the most common monster mentioned in email was the Undead Stygian Dolls.  As I covered them in some detail in last week’s feedback, I didn’t really want to cover them again in this week’s column, but that was probably a mistake. Really though, are they all that cool? It’s sort of neat that Fetish have animated skeletons, sometimes, but the only reason that anyone really remembers them is due to their lethality.  If they didn’t blow up and potentially kill your *** instantly, would anyone remember them as more than a speedbump on Durance 2?  A typical comment, from QOBrian.

I loved your list, but was dissapointed that Stygians didn’t make it. If Baron De Seis is God on Diablo, then a Unique Stygian is a demi-god. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a miniature mighted skeleton explode to take away 2500 life in one pop. I mean what would the other barbarians say if that’s how you went out?

Another frequent comment was that the “tails” as I described them of the Tentacle Beasts are in fact their tentacles, and that they’re a sort of mutated octopus or squid, ALA the fabled kraken.  Just that all the good part is hidden underwater.  Here’s Roteq-Reborn.

Ah tentacle beasties? I do have a bit of information? they?re like mutated octopi that shoot globs of venom instead of ink? those, my friend, are not tails? they are tentacles? like 2 of the 8 that octopi have? the other 6 may be hiding under the water? why they don?t get out and take off after us as we look for Lam Esen?s Tome in Travincal, I will never know? but look closely towards the tip of the tentacle and you will see what appears to be little sucker cups? you can even see them in the screenshot you provided us in article 2?

I realize that’s the intent, but since all you see is a narrow head/neck that spits at you, and the tentacles/tails just wave in the air harmlessly, it’s a pretty weak execution of “tentacle” to get any credit.  Also, when the creatures were first seen in promo jigsaw screenshots released before the game, they appeared to maybe be one short body with the tail sticking out of the water.

As you can see in this bit of tentacle beast concept art, they’re toothy and armored, and the tail is not anything like a tentacle with suckers on it. It’s a whacking weapon, and that’s how it’s used in the game. Furthermore if you look at the monster in game, like nose-to-monitor, they look undead. Rotten in spots, like the hide of a zombie.  So did Bliz decide these should be undead water monsters with spiked mace tails, and just never change the name or really bother to explain it?

In any event, they are a disappointment, especially their tentacles which don’t grab, making them no better than tails.

Bonus shot here, a vision of Kurast from a Blizzard magazine ad pre-game.  Few differences, eh?  The vertical line over the bridge is from the middle of the two page ad being scanned. That’s Atma there on the right; apparently she took the boat over from Lut Gholein at some point.

A number of readers wrote to say they enjoyed the Gharbad reference, or that it brought back pleasant memories of the first game.  Pity that D1 was ultimately ruined for all the hacks and bugged items and dupes. Oh wait…

David adds some first hand info about goats.

Having grown up around goats for 13 years, I can say that they don’t eat tin cans. They do like paper though. And leaves. And yes, I did play Diablo I and I loved killing Gharbad after he double-crossed me.

An interesting admission to make in public, that. Some players who didn’t grow up with goats or play D1 asked the obvious question.  Brandon, for one.

I’ve never even played the first Diablo, and I still thought it was funny what you said about the goatmen. Just what the hell were you talking about though?

Explaining humor always ruins the joke.  Nevertheless, one of the side quests in single player D1 was Gharbad.  He was a goatman that you couldn’t attack, and you’d find him standing in the dungeon, on level three or four.  When you clicked on him, he’d launch into a speech in his amusing goatish voice, the gist of which was that you should not kill him, for he would give you a lovely item.  “No hurt, no kill.  Something for you, I am ma-a-a-a-a-king.”  was his best line.  The whole thing in a goat-voice, all warbly and gruff and throaty.

You had to leave the area and return, and the second time you got another item (random magical stuff) with a promise of more if you’d just spare his life.  Then he’d have nothing the next couple of times, but promise something really good if you’d just spare him.  Eventually you’d come back and he would turn nasty. “This too good for you.  You want? You take!” and he’d attack, running around madly, and drop something else when you finally kill him.  It was quite a cool quest, one of many excellent ones in D1 single player.

D1 was much simpler and smaller, and if you play it now it’s painfully slow, but it had a lot better quests and atmosphere and much creepier monsters.  The Butcher was downright terrifying, and later monsters like Hidden were great also.  It’s much more of a horror game than the simple action game that is D2.

Shavindave’s closing comment is about the best summation of Bnet I’ve heard in recent weeks.

Quite the entertaining article, especially the Gharbad joke, my friends and I usually throw in one of those twice a year when we think everyone else has forgotten. Too bad its so pointless to fight any of the more creative monsters at this point, I really do hope Bliz manages to balance everything out a bit more in the patch. I’m not holding my breath however. I remember the first time I saw one of the Yetis, that (well titled as well) “***** slap” was about the funniest thing I saw in D2C, as well as being the end of my first hardcore character. Anyway, great article, read it while Bnet thought I was a hacker for logging on more than once every 20 minutes.

A couple of readers wrote in saying they had in fact seen the fabled “necromancer”, a playable character rumored to have skills similar to the mighty Oblivion Knight. Solarus, for one.

Oh, and about the rumors of the “necromancers”: they are, in fact, true!! I discovered this secret character class early on, and you are the first person I’ve told. What you do is you have to gossip with Alkor eight hundred fifty times. WARNING: Do this with a character that you DO NOT CARE ABOUT, because your character will be reduced to “Joe Shmoe Mode,” which turns your character into an average person and is irrevocable. Then you have to go and TALK TO, not attack, the Lord de Seis. Click on “talk”, then “flattery”. He tells you of some priest dudes who can raise the undead and such and such and so on and so on. Stop him once he starts, because his English is hard to understand, what with his raspy voice and heavy French accent, and his speech gets boring, because he talks slow. Then, IMMEDIATELY go to the Make New Character screen. Then will be a SEVENTH character, that’s right, BEYOND the usual six, that is between the assassin and barbarian, called a necromancer! Make one of these, and be sure to give it a cool name about the undead, because this is very hard to do again.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in.


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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