Flux’s Decahedron #3: The Ten Best and Worst Characters

The Ten Best and Worst Characters

As you’ve already noticed, assuming your counting skills have progressed beyond using one hand to help, this list would appear to be slightly problematic, being as there are only, um, seven characters. Foolish mortal!  How dare you interrupt! This list is actually two lists, a Best Five and Worst Five list.  This seemed a better option than having a Top 10 where 6-10 served as a sort of inverted Worst Five list.

These rankings are scientific, and factor in several variables including; how helpful or annoying a character is to other players in the game, their killing power, the tendencies of the people who play them, how useful they are in a party, and randomly-awarded bonus points born deep in the twisted recesses of my mind.

List is current as of January 2003, v1.09. This is not in any way a list of the characters in order of killing power, or popularity.  Don’t send me email asking how I could say Character X is better than Character Y, based on your lack of understanding of the whole concept… well actually scratch that, do send me that email, it’ll give me something to post in the comments next week.  In fact forget that you read this whole paragraph.

Top Five Worst Characters
#5: Babas!

A list of the 10 most annoying characters from D2C would have had this guy in the top five spots, with the possible exception of a Blizzard Sorc in there somewhere.  Whirlwind was nerfed a lot in D2X, lowering the damage and adding in a weapon speed check, and it’s still about the best killing skill in the game.  Imagine how it was back in D2C, before those nerfs?  Every eight-player D2C Hell game had at least 6 Barbs, 99% of them using WW, almost all with a Lance, and 100% of them rushing through all surface areas of Act Four in a non-stop WW frenzy, pausing only long enough to snatch up anything golden and threaten immediate death for anyone who dared enter “their” area.

The breed isn’t quite as annoying in D2X, but there are a startling number of them who, rather than going for killing power, have turned to the opposite path and made themselves into indestructible cowardly leeches.  You’ll see them WWing about two cows at a time, Stormshield clenched in one sweaty paw, constantly resetting everyone’s BO while ignoring explanations as to why they don’t need to cast it at lvl 23 every 30 seconds when there is an actual Barbarian in the game with duel Echoing swords.  The great salvation from Babas in D2C was IM-cursing Ob Knights in the CS, but since no one plays Act 4 longer than it takes to get a turbo through it anymore, even that’s out.

#4: Burizons

This one is mostly Blizzard’s fault for 1) bugging Guided Arrow so it would Pierce and not fixing it promptly, and 2) adding the ridiculously overpowered unique Ballista in v1.09 in response to Bowazons being underpowered in the early days of D2X, before Cruel weapons were understood.

Players immediately saw the benefits of combining one of the most overpowered skills with the most overpowered exceptional weapon, and the Burizon was born.  While it’s possible to play one with skill and dominate any area in the game, it’s really not necessary when you can just stand still and hold down Guided Arrow until everything is dead.  Duelers have an even lower opinion of the character, if you can imagine.

#3: Assassins

Most Assassins aren’t too annoying, since you can just watch them run along with their dual fly swatter attacks and pretty glowing lights and ignore them.  True, they provide zero benefit to the party other than their tanking minion, and even that’s dubious since 1) you can’t tell the tank from the Assassin, and 2) the tank never stands still like a useful Valkyrie or Golem, but instead spends its time leaping around and casting spells here and there, sometimes Converting monsters in most annoying fashion.

By far the most annoying thing any character does in a party, ever, is an Assassin using that goddamned “Lost City flashback” darkness skill, where suddenly you can’t see a damn thing.  One Assassin using that skill will clear an area of other players faster than dog farts under the dinner table.

#2: Sasa

The Sasa is not a true sorceress.  She’s not even a Sorcy. She is a cookie-cutter, twinked to the gills, built for speed.
[*]Resistances?  Don’t need ‘em.
[*]Hit points?  Maybe a few.
[*]Entire inventory full of +lightning or fire charms? Check.
[*]Ability to play anywhere other than the Bloody or Cows due to a total lack of skill variety and playing ability? Surely you jest.
They’re also useless since they provide zero to the rest of the party (other than occasionally Static on a big boss), they never tank, and they take all the kills and loot, while teleporting around frantically leaving everyone else to chug wearily after them.  The (debatable) fact that I invented and popularized the term “Sasa” as a “Baba” inspired insult for the initial wave of D2X hyperactive Firewall-exclusive Sorcies may or may not be relevant.

#1: The Necromancer

Any Necromancer.

When the only viable variant for a game beyond single player Nightmare is the exp-leeching “curse bltch”, you might as well just sit this round out and pray for v1.10.  Don’t hate me, I’m just the messenger.

Some day I’ll grow tired of Necromancer jokes.

Top Five Best Characters
#5: Necromancers

Yes, again.  True, they are pathetically weak in v1.09, but if you don’t mind waiting around for a long time between kills you may enjoy them. Their wide variety of Curses give you something to do, and they’ve got a decent ranged attack, plus can feel very safe with a wall of minions between them and those nasty monsters.  They are easy to outfit with MF stuff and keep alive, though the problem then becomes actually killing anything.  They are especially useful in parties if they know enough to use Amplify Damage and Decrepify and Lower Resistance properly. Wear your “Curse bltch” t-shirt with pride; it’s not as if those remora-like Conviction Paladins running after Lightning Fury Cowazons are any better.  It’s also very cheap to outfit a Necro, since no one else has any use for wands or totems, and will probably just give them to you if you ask, other than the belt and hat from Trang’s set, which no one ever uses, but people want since they are hard to find.

#4: Paladins

Paladins would rank higher, but for the fact that Fanaticism, their best D2X party skill, has such a tiny radius that it’s hard to keep active on your merc, much less other players.

Back in the “Might makes right” days of D2C, these guys were worth their weight in China White, as they tripled the damage of every character within about three screens.  They can still be helpful with auras now, especially Conviction for elemental party members, but they don’t have any useful minions to tank, and don’t have the hit points to stand in there personally.  Nor can they kill so fast that you can just sit back and let them do all the work.

#3: Druids

These guys are the new Paladins, with a ton of useful minions to boot. In other words, they are useful party members with beneficial skills who aren’t powerful enough to hog the kills or loot. No one doesn’t enjoy a nice fat Oak Sage floating around and doubling their hit points, plus the Druid will always have a bear or some wolves to tank.  We’re not mentioning Elemental Druids here, for obvious reasons.

Werebear Druids are the best to have in your party since they are great tanks and stun everything, but can’t actually kill anything and are slow to grab the goodies.  They’re basically furry golems that boost your experience.  Werewolf Druids are more likely to be part of the killing, rather than just a tank bltch, but the total helplessness against PIs that both types of Druids show (barring the rare Druid with something like a Baranar’s/Tiamat’s on his switch) is somewhat annoying. Fortunately there should be a Sorcy or Berserk Barb to help out in the friendly, co-op party. *waits for laughter*

#2: Javazons

While they don’t have anything enormously-useful to offer to the party, they are a lot of fun to play, even away from the Cow Level, if you know what you are doing.  Needless to say, the vast majority of players don’t, but we can’t really hold the shortcomings of the average Bneter against the character they choose to play.  Well, other than with Burizons and Sasas, at least.  Okay, so we can hold it against them all, on second thought.

A Javazon can tank at times, and she’s got an excellent minion, no really annoying skills and can kill quickly, so she’s got no real negatives and a lot of neutral or positives.  Plus I like them, and they’re great for MF’ing.  Fine, go make your own list then.

#1: MF Barbs

Barbarians are useful party members since they can provide Battle Orders, greatly boosting your hit points and mana.  They’re also handy tanks and fast killers. The drawbacks are that sometimes they are PKs, or clueless Babas (discussed above).  MF Barbs are generally the best players, with extremely good equipment for riches.  They know how to use BO and are probably going to be Horking a lot of corpses, so they won’t run off and leave you stuck in a narrow passageway with a ton of monsters in the way. They’re also not in such uber survival gear that they no longer fear death and are likely to try to PK you just for the hell of it.

As for playing one, that’s a blast.  There is not much more fun in the game than turning a pile of dead monsters into a gleaming screen full of 5000+ gold stacks and rare/set/unique items in under thirty seconds, while you’re gaining exp from the rest of the party off killing ahead of you, setting up your next corpse-rooting area.  Especially when you factor in the gloriously onomatopoetic “Hork” sound effect that Find Item creates.  I found my first Harlequin and second Stormshield Horking merrily away, the first from Eldritch and the second from a High Council in Travincal, so it’s entirely possible I’m biased towards the beast, but I’ll thank you for not bringing that up.


This column sparked a bit of controversy.  Lots of players are strongly attached to their favorite character types, and quite ready and eager to dispute any comments about that character not being completely roxor and uber.  Even if the comments are made in a joking style in a humor column.

Looking back at the column now, there are three things I would change:
[*]Lower the Javazon’s ranking to perhaps #4 or #5 since she’s relatively useless in most party situations.  I didn’t really give the 1-5 order that much thought, other than knowing long before I began writing the column that I’d have Necromancers at #1, for the humor of it.
[*]I also didn’t mention the huge annoyance of some characters who create huge computer lag for others.  Several emails said that was their biggest gripe about Necromancers.
[*]The other thing I should have included was some commentary about PVP.
Since all I play (well, played, I’ve hardly played in months with the dupes/bots/cheats so out of control) is Hardcore and generally with a strong emphasis on MF’ing, I don’t ever duel, other than occasionally dealing with a PK, or fooling around with friends. In light of that, it’s probably best that I didn’t include any PVP commentary, since it would have been unintentionally full of errors.  Rather than intentionally full of errors, as the rest of my comments were.  There’s a difference, you see.

As for the fact that I have written long guides (MF Barb, Javazon) about the top two characters in my ranking, that’s not a coincidence, but it wasn’t really a factor in my rating.  As I said above, Javazons should be lower on the list, and if I hadn’t played them myself so much, and didn’t know how great they were in lots of areas besides the Cow Level, I’d rank them much lower.  Probably down on the Worst list right next to the over-twinked Sasas, who are so annoying when you see one popping around in the cows.  I’m not likely to spend hours and hours on a big strategy guide about a character that I don’t really enjoy playing, so of course the guides I’ve done are about chars that I like and would rate highly.

The top chars is not a list of my favorite characters in the game.  I probably like to play Bowazons best, and I also enjoy Druids and Pals and Sorcs, as well as some Necro play.  The only character I’ve not played extensively in D2X is the Assassin, so you can attribute my comments about her to ignorance and only having observed them in MP games.  All the other stupid comments are on purpose.

On to the feedback!

The most offended by this column were the necromancer fans.  That’s only fair, since he was the most insulted on the Worst list, but I had still expected that there would be some more objectivity and ability to laugh at one’s own weaknesses.  Seemingly minutes after the column was posted, a forum post popped up in the Necromancer forum, just full of fury at the outrageous and grievous injuries my column had inflicted upon the noble corpse f’er.  You can still read that forum post if you want, though it was closed to additional posts once it started to go well off topic and was over 150 replies long.

There was even a post in the Druid forum that followed a similar tune, though with a lot less vehemence. I made posts sort of explaining myself to the Necros and to the Druids, and you can check those out rather than me going into the whole thing again in this feedback section.

The main point that most of the offended either missed or ignored was that this is an (attempted) humor column, and was not intended to be a serious evaluation of character strengths/weaknesses. People picked out comments about their favorite character and got upset about them, while blithely ignoring similar comments about other classes.  Of course Necromancers aren’t totally helpless and weak.  Nor are all Burizons cheesy skill-less Guided/MS hogs, or all sorceresses “sasas” who have nothing but Nova and T. Storm for cowing, etc.  All of the character comments were intentionally exaggerated and ridiculous and farcical.

One thing that I’ve learned from posting on this website for 4.5 years is that sarcasm and irony and humor will frequently be misinterpreted or just totally missed, over the Internet.  As I said in my post in the Necromancer forum, you literally can not write something so outrageous and absurd that some people won’t take it seriously.  As our various April Fools FotD’s and articles have proven.  In light of this I’m not sure why I was surprised at how many people didn’t get the jokes in this column, or get that they were jokes at all, despite the intro paragraphs strongly hinting at that.

There were a lot of people who ignored the last paragraph of the introduction which reads in part: “This is not in any way a list of the characters in order of killing power, or popularity.  Don’t send me email asking how I could say Character X is better than Character Y, based on your lack of understanding of the whole concept.”

Skipping over that lead to an awful lot of mails from people pointing out how great Character X was if you played them properly and how I didn’t know my a55 from a hole in the ground.  And as I said in the same intro paragraph, at least it’s something for the feedback section.

Feedback from expert player PaDebru. This is a quote. I didn’t AOLese it any. Seriously.

Hmmm you must be the most… how do i say this, ignorant column/D2X critic i have ever seen, ye si play necro, and all u did was base necros on a zookeeper, the slower of killing types, now I know this may be hard for a, hmm lemme guess what class u play, barb zon or sorc, player such as yourself, but a necro can kill faster than a LF javazon in hell cows, with 1 skill and 1 curse, amp and Corpse explosion, this combo is so devistating it should be nerfed in the next patch, Necro are the most well balanced characters in the game, as for your asn slammin’ they too have a ownage skill that owns pvm, Death sentry this will clear an area faster than “dog farts under the table”. To end this e-mail, i think u should be fired and burned at the stake, how dare u judge a character which u do not even understand.

A lot of people grasped that it was intended to be farcical and humorous… and were still upset.  Others were just angry.  SlugZSk8 for one.

/w *comeasyouare_ useast ill show u what necros can really do bltch ………….

Perhaps the king of the bitter emailers was tpellicone, though at least he’s not just coming from the Necro perspective.

Your articles suck

Whenever I see that you’ve written a new article I grown inwardly and wish vehemently that you would lose your hands in some variety of bloody accident.

Your opinions are nothing that I couldn’t hear from some of the more verbose mongoloids on battle.net, but tend towards prolix. Oh yeah, something I noticed while I was reading your pitiful excuse for an article. You mention druids as being one of your top characters, then you make the brilliant insight that elemental druids aren’t included (really, elemental druids suck? WOW, HOW AMAZING, I’D NEVER NOTICED THAT) – however the picture that you include for druids is… a druid using that fire boulder skill. Real classy.

The next time you set your over-broad a55 down to write an article, I would suggest writing about how much a loser you are.

You don’t suppose I might have selected that druid picture since it was ironic?  As for his future list suggestion, I’m not sure if that would be a best or worst list, but I’ll look into it.

A lot of Necro players ignored intro paragraph three and spent their emails trying to convince me that not only were Necromancers not the worst characters in the game, that they were in fact the best characters.  Best for PVP, best for cow’ing, best for MF’ing overall, etc. I’m talking long mails, paragraphs and paragraphs, much more than I can quote here.

Here’s part of a mail from Alec W.

I have reached level 90+ with so many DIFFERENT necromancers in 109, mostly playing solo, and refusing duped gear, that I can safely say that Nightmare single play holds about as much interest and challenge as cows for a well made necro.

You may also find it interesting to note that my ‘arty’ necro variant recently competed against several pure javazons in clearing cow mobs. I won half the rounds, except one where I accidentally got one of the observers killed and was disqualified.

I have made more than one buriza-wielding cheapzon fear the names of my PvP necros.

And another from Draco, who I’ll bet changed his nick as soon as Harry Potter got really popular.

you talk about necros as if they have nothing to offer to a cow game, when in fact my necro at lvl 72 was clearing half the cow lvl in the same amount of time it took 6 other ppl to clear the other half. granted i had a zon with me but she was the exact same lvl as me and was not equipped to rip through the cow lvl. i amped she guided to killed a couple cows. then i slammed corpse explosion until the packs were obliterated. furthermore if you lvl up an act2 thorns merc for your necro you can go about clearin the cow lvl even more quickly and without the aid of another person to kill the first few cows.

I’m not sure if they exactly believe this, or it’s just an effort to pump themselves up.  In any event, comparing kill times in the cow level is sort of pointless, since it’s such an easily-exploited area.  Everyone agrees that javazons and nova sorcs are cheesy in the cows, and then turns around and says their chars can kill just as/almost as/even faster there. Enormous mobs of slow, clumping, almost boss-less melee monsters with zero resistance are about the easiest thing imaginable for many types of character. Debate killing speed in a more balanced area, such as during Baal runs, or perhaps clearing out the Ice Caves in Act Five, if you want to make claims of character superiority.

Some Necro players were less offended. Here’s one from Wings.

While I agree with a lot of the comments you wrote, it is because of similar thoughts I personally had, that I try so hard to make variants that make up for the inherent weakness or bore factor of certain chars.

I made my “Curse bltch” mf CE overlord with a mighter merc for two reasons: 1) I truly hate the general mentality of the majority of necs that people complain about. 2) To prove that aside from being the groups best friend once the fighting starts, I can actually be a non army man who can solo almost anywhere without slowing the game and everyone in it to a crawl.

The heart of the matter when it comes to Necros is pretty well summed up in these mails.  First from James G.

I am very satisfied with my necro and myself for stepping up to the challenge of this “weak” character. What really got annoying was all the sorcs and zons complaining about the necro. I mean really Lower resist isnt appreciated by sorcs. I dont even think most people know that curse. And zons complaining about how they sat there and shot at my revived cows thinking they were real cows.Barbs and others really dont mind being able to hide in my minons and snatch all the goodies. And the constant demands of “Hey necro you caused me to die from your lag” mostly from sorcs and assasins. well ya we all lag at times but really if you think about it orb/nova sorc tend to cause the most lag, as well as the traps of the assasin. So granted yes i may lag your pc but hey you lag it too. There are a lot of people who dont respect the necro i just see this as a personal problem on their part.

And also from Thomas.

Ignorance is bliss huh? And it seems to me like your trying to spread this “bliss” throughout the diablo2 community. I know what you said was harmless and you were trying to be funny or whatever, but lots of people visit dii.net take what the people say on here as the law, and they read things like that and are made even more eager to make fun of every necro that enters their game. I’m not sure if you’ve played nec’s before, but just about every time I enter a public game I get some degrading comment, which forces me to respond by getting my pvp nec and killing them over and over before they can kill me once. It gets really old having to prove myself every time I just want to do questing and I’m sure many other necros feel the same way.

Most Necro players are tired of hearing stupid remarks (like the ones in the column) about their character, so when they see them in a semi-official place like Diabloii.net, it really sets them off, since they envision countless more noobs and trolls on Bnet parroting the comments here.

As I said earlier, lots of people totally missed intro paragraph three.  The scariest mails are the ones from people who not only didn’t think it was funny, but who have no idea at all that it’s even meant to be, and who take the whole thing as a serious strategy article.  Reading is hard. Here’s Caleb, being scary:

1st of all bear druids straight suck theyre not worthy of 3rd place. all they do is attack1ce every 4 days and do low dmg because they have no good skills.

2nd an mf barb in the party is worthless they dont fight they just wait for you t kill something and as u would say “hork” theyre asses off.

3rd a necro sux he shouldnt be in the top 5 mil. all they do is sit there pulling up minnions who dont even kill anything and shooting little skulls rthat do 50 dmg while eeveryone else kills for them

4th a pally deserves first plce my pally doesnt need help in an 8 player cow run in hmode he clears monsters so fast it would make ur head spin all a pally needs is a fast high dmg weapon (mine uses fury zerker) and with multiple pallys u can end up with 2-3 auras like conviction fanat and holy freeze so everything anywhere near u is so weak even a lvl1 with a cracked dagger can kill it.

and finaly wheres the fo sorcs? a sorc with max fo/mastery and max meteor/mastery can kill all the monsters in the gme before anyone else steps out of town.

i think u should get a reality check or resign.

Oddly enough, most of the angry mail came in the first day or two. After that the mailers were almost all people who liked it and enjoyed the humor and agreed with my comments.  This is probably due to my adding links at the bottom of the column to the “Flux sux” thread in the Necro forum, but for whatever reason, the majority of the emails after Thursday were more positive.  Or at least not flaming.

There were, fortunately, quite a few people who enjoyed the column and wrote to say so.  I’m quoting more positive feedback mails here than usual, since there were so many bltchy ones from people who said they say no humor in it, etc.  Will the fact that most readers laughed and enjoyed it give the angry ones some added perspective on things?  Probably not.

Here’s a typical “right on” mail, from mydogisgod.

dude you are my hero!!! that is funny 5hit and all completely true. Those lame bnetters who don’t agree with you probably have an account full of various burizons and sasas LOL meant to “own” everyone else on bnet.

From Demonic Puffin.

I read your past 2 decas and they were great, this one was real good too,I wouldn’t consider you ‘bias’ against mf babas. as they are,by far,the first or second best char in the game. I was thinking you’d shove a burittazon there…then I would’ve had something negative to say, mf barbs by far outweigh the cookie cutter so called ‘class’ known as the burizon. I’ve read all so far,I plan to continue reading any columns and such you write.I also highly agree over the javazon point, somewhere along the lines of: skilled player the javazon can play anywhere, most players are not skilled tho. My friend is one such skilled player, he has a lvl 96 SC javazon on east, it can kill anything and he can rush faster than a bowazon in most cases. well….once again it was a very good read, I look foreward to reading the next column =)

PS. Your mension about druids being the new pallies was what made it overly good for me =) I’m a sort of druid guru =P

From Victor.

It was so funny, that I had trouble reading because the screen was bouncing up & down. You see I was laughing so hard I could not take my finger off the mouse button which was clicked on the scroll bar!!

From Daniel.

wear your “Curse bltch” t-shirt with pride; it’s not as if those remora-like Conviction Paladins running after LF Javazons are any better.

I nearly bust a gut laughing when I read this. Likening a conviction paladin to a tiny fish that lampreys itself to a sallow-eyed ocean predator to secure a steady supply of discarded crumbs is oddly amusing.

From Keith.

Very funny Flux, one of the more interesting and comical pieces. I just wanted to say that you may have left out the other half of why those blasted Assassins are annoying. They use that conviction type skill which turns the monsters to your team for a mere 20 seconds. Almost nothing, besides the occasional person who makes it so you cannot open the cow level anymore, is more annoying than that skill…

From Ben.

Wow i literally am speechless, that was a good column good job, i especially liked the fact that you mentioned how overpowered characters have become, the zon especially i only hope the patch changes all that, keep up the good work (if you’re going to).

One from DK Sandman.

well i must say i agree with the list, mostly. I enjoy necros but as it seems… nobody else does. and as for the #1 best, well i have an 81 mf baba on east that i built from his guide and it works great.

I’d just like to point out that the list wasn’t meant to be “agreed” with, any more than it was meant to be disagreed with.  It was meant to be an amusing and farcical column with funny comments about lots of character variants.  But if you read it and enjoyed it, from whatever perspective, then goodie for you.

There were also a lot of very long mails, I’m talking strategy article size, listing their favorite characters in order, evaluating all of the characters in great detail in terms of killing speed or PVP ability, including best equipment recommendations, etc. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write ones that like, usually with the best of intentions. The main benefit of such emails is to make very clear to me why I’m writing these lists short and full of jokes.

As for the info, it’s interesting to see the PoV of other players on things, but trust me, I’ve played the game a bit myself.  All of the errors and lies in this column were put there on purpose, for comedic effect.  Judging by the number of people who didn’t think it was funny, I’ve got some work to do.

I’m taking away two lessons from this column.
1) Every character type, no matter how objectively weak and worthless, has its loyal defenders.
2) Put the column intro disclaimers in bigger letters.

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.

Tagged As: | Categories: Retired Columns


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