Nature's Fury: The Battle with Uber Diablo
Our druid team assembled as usual one Wednesday night, expecting a routine journey through the opening part of Act I Hell. This would be our first venture into the highest difficulty level, but the Blood Moor and Cold Plains usually do a good job of easing the player into the pitfalls associated with Hell. We went through the Den quest without issue; a couple of deaths when confronting boss packs, but nothing out of the ordinary. No one expected anything too dangerous to appear as we cleared the Cold Plains.
Boy were we in for a surprise!
Halfway through the Cold Plains, a message appears on screen: Diablo walks the earth! Uh oh. That means that the rarely seen Uber Diablo has spawned in our game - here, in the very opening of Act I! Our variant team is certainly not prepared to handle such a foe. But we resolved to find him and give it our best shot, regardless of how grisly the outcome might be.
Uber Diablo replaces the next Super Unique monster that you face once he spawns in a game. "Super Uniques" are any of the bosses that are always present in all games: monsters like Blood Raven, Rakanishu, Treehead Woodfist, the Countess, and so on. Since we were halfway through the Cold Plains when we received the Diablo message, we expected to trigger the battle when facing Blood Raven. Everyone loaded up on preventive equipment (fire and lightning resistance a must - for those who could use them!) and prepared for the confrontation.
Enterting the Burial Grounds... eh, what's this?
Where's Diablo? Not here, obviously. Just Blood Raven as usual. What a letdown. At least we were able to knock out the second quest, and give the old girl a sound thrashing:
She was no match for the Druid team. Just look at that punishment - pinned, chilled, and under attack from a half dozen summons, Raven can't even move. She was considerably less dangerous than a randomly spawning boss pack.
Since Diablo didn't appear in the Burial Grounds, we decided to see if he would show up down in the Cave, replacing Coldcrow. After clearing almost the entire area first, we finally found the boss encounter at the very end of the dungeon:
Again?! Diablo's not here either! Where the bloody hell is this guy, anyway? Well, as it turned out, someone had briefly crossed over into the Stony Field right after we received the Diablo message initially. That triggered the Diablo event, having him replace the nearest boss in the Stony Field: Rakanishu. This wasn't really a great place to trip the Diablo fight, as there are always a ton of enemies around the cairn stones. Fighting Uber Diablo and a horde of lesser monsters at the same time would be no easy picnic.
Nevertheless, with their hearts full of determination, the druids entered the Stony Field and prepared for an epic struggle.
We had gone no more than a few steps past the entrance when Diablo came charging out after us. There he is!
Diablo made his entrance by raining fire and death down from the heavens. As half the team tried to lure Diablo back into the cleared ground of the Cold Plains, the other half continued to take out the lesser foes in the Stony Field. Jaffa's werewolf confronts a crow at the bottom of the screenshot above, for example. Diablo was being coy initially, but after a few minutes of manuevering, we were able to draw him back into the narrow passage between the two areas, where the battle began in earnest.
Look, we've taken out a single pixel of his lifebar, woohoo! Only several hundred more to go. We took out the last few remaining enemies in the area (like the circled zombie), and then set to work. It quickly became apparent that we could not damage Diablo faster than he regenerated his life back. This would have created an impossible situation... except that the team had several Prevent Monster Heal (PMH) weapons on hand for just such an occasion. T-Hawk had a PMH javelin, and he volunteered to take responsibility for "tagging" Diablo. PMH weapons only stop monster regen for a set amount of time, so he would have to keep hitting Diablo over and over again throughout the fight to prevent healing. With Fissure on a spell timer, however, this actually seemed to work pretty well. (Fissure, throw, throw, Fissure, throw, throw, etc.) And even with terrible attack rating, you always get at least a 5% chance to hit in this game - some of those javelins were going to hit home!
Ten minutes into the battle, we had begun to put a noticeable dent in Diablo's lifebar:
Our team was also beginning to fall into regular attack patterns as we felt out our strategy. Dathon's Spirit Wolves and Viking's werebear were absolutely critical for keeping Diablo pinned in place. Whenever one or both ran out of potions and returned to town (or died), we quickly ran into trouble. Even with their summons, Diablo would occasionally charge and go rampaging out of control. I could help somewhat with tanking, but even my 3000+ life didn't hold up for long against Diablo's massive attacks. Every thirty seconds, I usually had to port out for healing in town. (Reds were useless in this situation, and I didn't have nearly enough purple rejuves to drink my way through the fight.)
So long as Diablo was safely pinned, the rest of our mage druids could engage in relatively safety from a distance. But when Diablo broke containment, things could get ugly, and druids started dying in a hurry. In the above picture, one of the druids is running for dear life from the Lightning Breath of Doom (LBoD). I certainly would have high-tailed it out of there too if I didn't have all this ridiculous life!
Zed's chilling blast was a major help when it managed to slow Diablo; the only problem was that it wore off in mere fractions of a second! The designers clearly didn't want to leave any loopholes open with regards to cold. Namarie's Tornadoes did major damage, with the added danger of needing to get close enough to use them. For someone with -80% lightning resistance, that was a big deal indeed!
Because the potions on hand weren't nearly enough, we split up the team duties further and had several druids making potion runs to fuel the life and mana needs of those engaged in the fight. This resulted in considerable stacks piling up over time:
Diablo is off in the direction of the arrow. Here, in the back lines, are neat stacks of reds and blues ready for anyone who needed them. Almost everyone took turns grabbing potions at some point, often after getting killed and respawning in town. As money began to grow tight, we finally found a use for the enormous piles of junk that always accumulate in the town square, selling them off to fuel more potions for the fight.
Half an hour gone, and Diablo is below half health:
I hoped that we would be able to take him down right here, pinned between the Cold Plains and Stony Field, but it was not to be. Diablo still had a few more tricks to play before all was said and done.
As his health dropped down into the "I" on his life bar, Diablo managed to break free from his containment. He slapped down several of the druids and ran off to the north, leaving our team in chaos. When the battle was rejoined a moment later, Diablo decided to camp out on our potion reserves!
This made resupplying a lot more difficult. The only thing to do was set up new supply dumps away from the front lines, which our team began doing with gusto. We even had to lure Diablo away from the bodies you see above, so that the druids who had been killed could recover their gear. All told, however, we survived this incident without too much trouble.
Then the screen went black. YOUR CONNECTION HAS BEEN INTERRUPTED.
Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Don't tell me it's going to end this way!
Battle.net, for once in your miserable life, stop messing with us and just work, goddammit!
Everyone was dumped out of the game, but it turned out that the server had NOT crashed. We immediately jumped back into the game again, finding things much as we had left them. While the other druids began grabbing more potions, T-Hawk and I raced from the Cold Plains waypoint back to the battleground, desperately hoping that the interval hadn't been enough time to see Diablo's life restored.
We cross into the Stony Field... "He hasn't healed!"
And with that, a great cry of joy went up over the Teamspeak server. After another tag with Prevent Monster Heal, we were back in business. Diablo only regenerated about 5% of his lifebar while we were gone from the game. He had pulled out all the stops now, even screwing around with the US West server, but we were still determined to come out on top.
The battle did have its lighter moments as well. I laughed out loud when I saw one of Dathon's Spirit Wolves stuck in a Bone Prison.
As Diablo's life dropped below 20%, he grew more and more animated. Up against the raw fury of nature possessed by the druid team, Diablo responded with his own incredible pyrotechnics. This display of Firestorm put our own measly blasts to shame:
At times, you could hear a continuous whimper of Spirit Wolves dying in the searing heat of the flames. When surrounded by foes, Diablo let loose Flame Novas again and again, now desperately seeking to destroy those who hounded after his life:
The purple bubbles of Lower Resist over his head only made the elemental magicks of the druids that much more effective. By now, Diablo was clearly running out of steam:
The Lord of Terror snarled and wiped a clawed hand across his brow. These opponents, though mere humans, were unlike any others he had ever faced. No matter how many times he smashed them into the ground, always they rose again and returned to the conflict. All of his demonic powers had been for naught thus far. And at every turn, these foes continued to sap his energy; he had been seared with the glowing heat of fissures, knocked backwards with explosive boulders, hurled aside by raging winds and chilled to the bone with arctic blasts. Then there were the wolves, and the bear. Hounding him constantly, teeth snapping at his heels, paws gouging his forearms. Even these damned ravens, pecking at his eyes. Mere pinpricks all, but a thousand cuts can kill as surely as a blade to the heart.
Diablo roared his defiance, but his voice was growing feeble, his limbs beginning to slow and falter...
Everyone crowded around Diablo as his life dropped to a mere sliver. This was the final stand. He would not break away again.
Die, Lord of Terror.
And so, just over an hour after the battle began, the druid team successfully killed Uber Diablo. We finished him off right where the fighting had started, in the passageway between the Cold Plains and Stony Field. What a battle!
Much to our own surprise, we managed to take out one of the most difficult foes in the entire game - in our first session in Hell, no less! Kudos all around to a fabulous team effort from everyone. We needed proper coordination from the team tank (me), summoners (dathon and Viking), PMH user (T-Hawk), elementalists (Namarie, Shadow, and Zed), and potion haulers (Jaffa along with many others) to pull everything off cleanly. Diablo ended up getting roughly 30-40 kills total; since the game crashed on us, I couldn't get an exact count. While that is a lot, keep in mind our low levels (~70, against a foe who was level 110!) and variant setup. Poor T-Hawk and Namarie had close to -100% fire and lightning resistance, respectively! To be able to pull things off at all, in a fight requiring a full hour's worth of time, was quite impressive. Great work, all.
Uber Diablo has 5,141,600 hit point in an eight player game. And I thought I had a lot of life! He never did manage to kill me, although I believe that he got everyone else at least once. Having several thousand hit points was the difference there, as well as several nice saves drinking purples off the belt. Diablo did a critical hit at once point that easily landed 1200+ damage. I'm not sure anyone else could have survived that.
A useless charm that no one can use because of our variant rules! Darn you, +1 to all skills! Anyway, that Annihilus charm sure is an amazing piece of gear. Bearlin_Wall will be holding onto it in his stash as a souvenir of our epic battle.
It was quite a night overall. Let's hope that the druids have some more dramatic tales ahead!