How to combat elite monster affixes in Diablo 3
While I continue to explore the Ruins of Sescheron, Kanai’s Cube, and Torments higher than six on the patch 2.3.0 PTR, I’m here to talk about a popularly requested topic: what are elite monster affixes and how do I defeat various combinations?
First off, what are elites? “Elite” is a general term in Diablo 3 that refers to three types of monster bigger, stronger, and more complex than your average monster. The three different types of elites are different difficulties of elite and can drop different loot. You can identify them mainly by the color of their name and main-target health bar nameplate as well as their color in the playing field. Elites also may appear larger than their monster type would normally appear.
- Champions are blue elites with blue names that appear in packs of 3-6. Champions are named whatever monster they are so a champion Mallet Lord pack will still be called “Mallet Lord” in blue.
- Rares are yellow elites with yellow names and often accompanied by a pack of minions in silver names but normal monster model colors. The pack of minions is often a related monster type when in Campaign Mode or Adventure Mode, but they may be randomized in Greater Rifts. Rares have randomized two-part names; the first name is often a reference or in-joke. Alot is a reference to a mythical grammar monster while names like Zarhym, Lylirra, and Nevalistis are Community Managers from Blizzard.
- Uniques are special rare elites that have purple names but an otherwise yellow appearance. Uniques are always the same monster type and found in the same general location — e.g., Chiltara will always be a Lacuni huntress found in the second level of the Caverns of Frost cave in the Fields of Slaughter map in Act 3. Uniques are often rare spawns like Chiltara or the Keywardens, but they also include boss-like mobs like rift guardians or Act bosses.
To help you distinguish bounty objective bosses and rift guardians from surrounding elites, these will have a purple name and yellow appearance much like a unique would, but their main target nameplate is a rectangular frame with scroll flourishes rather than the pointy health bar that regular elites get.
An affix in Diablo 3 is a specific elite monster mechanic that appears as 1-2 words on the elite’s main target nameplate. An elite starts with 1 affix when the player starts the game and scales up to 4 possible affixes by the time the player hits level 60. Certain pairs or groups of affixes will never appear together on the same elite — for example, a Vortex elite won’t also have Knockback — but in endgame modes like rifts you can and will often pull multiple elite packs, so you’ll have to learn to deal with conflicting affixes from two or more elites.
As with most things in Diablo 3, recognizing an affix in the playing field is very easy for they all have distinct appearances. Lingering effects like Plagued pools or spinning Arcane Enchanted spikes will disappear from the playing field when the entire elite pack responsible for the mechanic is killed. Each elite monster will spawn their mechanics every few seconds in a fight, so you’ll have to deal with several affixes at once throughout the fight.
“Don’t stand in the fire” affixes
These affixes affect an area of combat and are simple to move out of once they spawn. They will often spawn on or near the player or on the mob themselves.
- Desecrator (Fire) forms a molten pit below the player’s feet. The pit can be obscured by some affixes like Plagued and this is particularly deadly with the Jailer affix as you can get locked in place with a Desecrator pit.
- Frozen Pulse (Cold) is an icicle that will first chase the player until the player stops, then it too will stop, and it will pulse cold damage and slow movement to an area around it. This means you can set its initial location if you watch for when it spawns, then just move out when it starts to pulse.
- Molten (Fire) means the elite themselves has an immolation aura as well as leaves behind a molten path. This can be dangerous for melee classes but ranged players just stand back. Be careful when looting Molten elites, for they explode when they die!
- Mortar (Fire) can be thought of as the Molten for ranged players, where the mob spews out mortar missiles that explode in an area near the player marked by a simple orange-bordered circle. Standing in melee range of the elite can eliminate this mechanic, but watch out for hard-hitting melee mobs with this affix.
- Plagued (Poison) spawns big green pools on and around the player that persist until the elite pack is dead. Standing just outside a pool on the edge can help to stack the pools better when you’re tight on space.
- Thunderstorm (Lightning) is an on-the-player spawn of a big blue circle where lightning will strike you if you stand in it. Simply run out and you’ll avoid its damage.
These affixes are all avoidable by moving to a different spot in combat. Not all of these are completely Frogger-style mechanics, but they do require more movement to avoid than most other affixes.
- Arcane Enchanted (Arcane) are the deadly spinning spikes of pink. They spawn in a random spot with a small pulse where they will first point, and then they rotate around 360 degrees before disappearing. Dodge the spikes or use an immunity skill to run through them.
- Frozen (Cold) spawns a handful of icicle chunks that explode in an area after a few seconds. You can stand in the circle before the icicle explodes, but be sure to get out if you don’t want to be frozen in place!
- Orbiter (Lightning) spawns a big ball of lightning that serves as the center for orbiting rings of little blue balls that deal lightning damage to players near or on them. There’s usually a space where you can stand in between rings of little balls. Avoid the big ball.
- Poison Enchanted (Poison) spawns criss-crossing paths of poison damage that follow the floor for a long distance. Find the corner of the cross that best suits you (and avoids other crosses’ paths) and stand there until the affix resets again.
- Electrified (Lightning) is where the mob will shoot out bolts of lightning in every direction. You can technically dodge these bolts, especially as they spread out at ranged, but I usually just stand still and take the damage in order to DPS the elite.
These are the affixes that will help other affixes kill you. However, you can use the environment or some of the affixes themselves to guide your movement to less problematic spots, and you can usually escape with an immunity class mechanic.
- Jailer locks you in place with a purple prison for a couple seconds. This is particularly dangerous if you’re already or about to be standing in a bad spot.
- Knockback knocks you back. This isn’t your average Grotesque’s belly-shot backwards, but sometimes this affix can knock even ranged players out of shooting range and into bad spots.
- Nightmarish occasionally fears you away in a random direction.
- Teleporter is the most annoying and deadly when combined with monster types that already teleport and charge around.
- Vortex elites will occasionally pull players to their position, but you can easily defeat this mechanic by hiding behind an obstruction like a doorway wall or even a Waller wall.
- Waller spawns walls either in pairs that cross or V in front of a player or in three’s that wall off all but one direction for a player. Waller walls can also block some player projectiles like Poison Dart, but usually DoT spells and melee abilities will hit mobs in range on the other side.
- Wormhole spawns two pink Jailer-like portals. Stepping in one portal will teleport you to the other. Pay attention to where both ends spawn; sometimes you can use them to your benefit to avoid other affixes!
These affixes are monster properties, affecting how they defend themselves, increasing the damage they deal, or more monsters.
- Avenger elites grow in both size and strength when you defeat one of them. This means the last one alive is particularly deadly. Either kill them all at the same time or be prepared to kite.
- Fast means the elites hit faster with both normal and affix attacks.
- Fire Chains link the champion elites together and if you’re caught near a chain or in the fire chain triangle, you take a lot of damage.
- Health Link means the elites all share health, so you have to kill them together, but realize that shooting at one monster damages them all.
- Horde means this rare elite is followed by more minions than normal. This multiplies all the affixes caused by the minions.
- Illusionist occasionally multiplies the elite by 3-5 times. The copies have less health but look exactly like the original and they also spawn more affix mechanics.
- Missile Dampening is a big dome of translucent blue energy that slows but doesn’t eliminate projectiles.
- Reflects Damage means stop hitting the elite when it starts having a bright, spiky red glow on it.
- Shielding means pick another target for a bit when there’s a big green globe on the mob.
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