Elite Affix Mechanics

Content of this article:

  1. Overview
  2. Blue Affixes
  3. Yellow Affixes
  4. Shared Affixes
  5. Summary

Overview

As you play, you will find elite enemies of two different types: Champions (Blues) or Rares (Yellows). Each of them have their own set of possible affixes, and a long list of shared ones.

Blue packs are always a set of 3 or 5 monsters of the same type. Be careful when kiting them as certain monster types like to stay behind and you might very well finish off an entire pack only to find one of them hiding at full life in a corner somewhere. When killed, they will spawn 3 progression globes (for a total of 3.45% progress).

Yellow packs always consist of one leader (the elite) and a pack of minions, which can be either of the same or a smaller type than the elite itself. Some affixes only apply to the leader, while others are shared to their minions, too, depending on the impact of the affix. When killed, they will spawn 4 progression globes (for a total of 4.60% progress). Finishing minions does not give any benefits besides their monster type's typical amount of progression and potentially procs like In-Geom or Bane of the Powerful (both of which require to finish the entire pack).

Level Ranges

As you progress up in levels on your journey from 1 to 70, elites will show up with elite affixes higher in quantity and dangerousness. The breakpoints are:

  • 1 Affix: Lvl 1 - 29
  • 2 Affixes: 30-49
  • 3 Affixes: 50-59
  • 4 Affixes: 60+
Affix Combinations

Certain combinations of affixes are impossible. In essence, elite affixes are grouped by "type" with an offensive, a defensive and a crowd-control category. An elite will always have at least 2, at most 3 offensive affixes and cannot have more than 1 defensive and crowd-control affixes. Some examples of impossible combinations:

  • Avenger + Health Link
  • Shielding + Juggernaut
  • Missile Dampening + Illusionist
  • Fire Chains + Mortar + Orbiter + Plagued
  • Thunderstorm + Vortex + Jailer + Desecrator
Mitigation

Most of the dangerous offensive affixes can be mitigated through certain stat rolls on your items, such as Melee Damage Reduction, Ranged Damage Reduction and Elite Damage Reduction along with the appropriate resistance roll. Another great stat to roll is Crowd Control Reduction, which helps against certain loss of control effects suffered from these affixes. As a rule of thumb, most affixes with ground effects are classified as Melee, most affixes that are fired or cast at a distance are Ranged. Apart from Physical damage which most of the regular attacks from monsters do, elemental resistances are important to reduce the danger from these elite affixes. Certain elite affixes are also avoidable through Block and Dodge Chance.

To give an overall impression of the importance of the different resistance types, you can stick to the following order of priority (in general): Physical > Lightning = Cold > Arcane/Holy > Fire > Poison. The most effective tool to protect yourself from elite affixes should you find yourself dying to much is equipping the Esoteric Alteration, which gives a massive bonus against everything non-Physical. There are also the immunity amulets Countess Julia's Cameo, Mara's Kaleidoscope, The Star of Azkaranth, Talisman of Aranoch and Xephirian Amulet, which can be used as a defensive choice on builds that don't require a very specific amulet to wear. However, these immunity amulets have fallen quite out of favor with the introduction of newer, DPS-focused items like Squirt's Necklace, The Flavor of Time or The Traveler's Pledge.


Blue/Champion Affixes

Avenger

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: very good affix to find
  • Mechanics: does nothing at first, increases in intensity as members of the pack are killed

Avenger is one of the very good affixes to find on an elite, as it is usually not dangerous and actually helps you kill them. Not only do they follow you faster when you try to make a big pull, but once one of their members dies, it will buff the remaining ones with extra speed, damage and also damage taken (which increases by 50% per application).

Fire Chains

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Fire
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Fire Resistance, Blockable
  • Impact: very dangerous for melee builds
  • Mechanics: 10 ticks per second, only activate with at least 2 members nearby, can be dodged

Fire Chains are a very dangerous affix for melee players. It binds the pack together through a chain between its members, which you should try to stay out of if you can. It deals very high damage and is the main reason why Fire resistance is rather valuable for melee builds. It also slightly changes the movement pattern of the elites: From time to time, they will try to move around and surround you with their chains.

For certain block-based builds, especially a Heaven's Fury Crusader using Ivory Tower, Fire Chains can be a very useful affix to find, as it produces a large amount of ticks which can all be blocked and give you a big damage spike.

Health Link

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: very good affix to find
  • Mechanics: spreads damage taken evenly (most of the time), can be outranged

Health Link elites are great to find. It's another one of these helpful affixes that actually make your life easier, as it does nothing to you and helps you finish off the elites more easily (which is quite important on blue packs to get anything out of them). When the elites take damage, it is proportionally spread to each other member of the pack in range (around 1 screen), which will slowly kill them all at the same time. There are a few problems with this affix however, as certain effects don't work, don't scale properly or simply do not apply at all (e.g. Conduit Pylon or big bursts of damage like Fan of Knives Pinpoint Accuracy).

Since Health Link will share the damage on every tick of damage, it can create server lags quite easily when using certain skills in large density. Be careful especially with laggy builds in groups.


Yellow/Rare Affixes

Horde

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: typically good, sometimes very dangerous
  • Mechanics: usually doubles the amount of minions

Horde is generally a good affix, as it adds additional minions to the pack. More enemies means more progression and more Area Damage. However, certain affixes that are inherited from their leader can be quite dangerous, such as Arcane Enchanted or Mortar.

Missile Dampening

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: sometimes very good, usually very bad
  • Mechanics: slows projectiles by 90%

Missile Dampening can be both useful and very disturbing depending on your build. Certain skills such as Hungering Arrow with The Ninth Cirri Satchel or Elemental Arrow Ball Lightning can experience miraculous damage buffs by firing inside one of these bubbles, as they deal more and more damage over time. On the other hand, for example for Support Barbarians in groups trying to pull them with Ancient Spear Rage Flip will have a hard time doing so without a lot of practice (and even then it will slow down the group more than normal).

Juggernaut

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: usually very bad, sometimes very very bad (to the point of auto-skip any elite with it)
  • Mechanics: CC-immunity, 30% increased damage taken

Juggernaut makes the yellow walk slower, take more damage and provides immunity to all forms of Crowd Control. Overall, it's a very bad affix to find, as they are hard to kite and take less damage in most cases (as many builds utilize Bane of the Trapped which is ineffective here). Builds that more heavily rely on Crowd Control effects to deal damage typically have to skip elites with this affix almost in every single case (e.g. Bracer of Fury or any Necro build because of Krysbin's Sentence). One way around that, however, is to kill or at least severely damage the elite through Area Damage, which is not affected by the no CC-penalty on other targets near it.


Shared Affixes

Arcane Enchanted

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Arcane
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Arcane Resistance
  • Impact: depends on the build and space around the area, ranges from very easy to very dangerous
  • Mechanics: 25 yards radius (circling), 2 sec delay after cast, lasts 10 sec when activated
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Arcane Enchanted is one of the most dangerous offensive affixes in the game. The elite (or minion) spawns a rotating beam that will do one full circle and then disappear again. It deals very high damage, but can also be avoided through movement rather easily if you are aware of the surroundings. Be careful in narrow maps like Keep Depths where these beams might spawn out of vision behind a wall and melt you through it, as they will pierce anything.

Desecrator

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Fire
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Fire Resistance
  • Impact: low, easy to deal with
  • Mechanics: 6 yards radius, damage starts/ends with 1sec delay, base damage doubles every 0.5sec

Desecrator is one of the easier offensive affixes to deal with. The elite spawns a pool of fire on the ground, which grows in intensity over time as you stand on it. Typically you don't want to tank it entirely (as it can become very damaging after a few seconds) but moving out for a second, will reset the damage back to the default.

Electrified

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Lightning
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Lightning Resistance, Blockable
  • Impact: very bad for very squishy builds, otherwise not a big deal
  • Mechanics: triggers when hit, 4 bolts each time, can be dodged, grows in intensity at low life
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Typically ignored by tanky builds, Electrified can be extremely problematic for the squishier ones (e.g. Rat Necros). Every time an elite is hit by an attack, it will have a chance to spawn a lightning bolt that will quickly fill the entire screen on bigger packs. This effect persists while the enemy is crowd controlled, which makes it especially problematic in squishy speedfarming setups.

Fast

  • Offensive affix
  • Impact: useful to find
  • Mechanics: 40% movement speed, 20% attack speed, 10% cast speed
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Fast is very simple and definitely one of the good affixes to get, as it's not dangerous and helps you kite elites more easily.

Frozen

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Cold
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction (explosion), Melee Damage Reduction (DoT), Elite Damage Reduction, Cold Resistance
  • Impact: very dangerous, needs to be avoided
  • Mechanics: 15 yard radius, 6 orbs per cast, 4 sec to explode, 2 sec applies freeze, explosion can be dodged

The elite spawns some Frozen orbs all around you, which will start dealing DoT damage in their vicinity as they grow and finally explode after charging up, dealing heavy damage and freezing you. You always want to run out of (at least) the explosions, as they can easily finish you all by themselves. If you have a very squishy build or you are wearing Squirt's Necklace, it's possible to dodge the DoT damage entirely by timing you mobility/defense skill (e.g. Vault) properly with fast reactions. Frozen will always spawn the first orb close to the elite and outside of your range before the others follow.

Frozen Pulse

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Cold
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Cold Resistance
  • Impact: high damage, but can be outplayed easily
  • Mechanics: 15 yards radius, inert for 1.5 sec on cast, pulses for 10 sec after triggered, applies 60% slow

Frozen Pulse is a quite dangerous affix due to its heavy damage and area denial, but easy to play around. The inactive Pulse will spawn and follow you around until it reaches you once, then stay and start pulsing at that spot. You can use this behavior to your advantage by moving away from the fighting area and luring it in a corner or similar, then turn around and walk through the pulse to activate it. Like this, you will trick it quite easily.

Illusionist

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: sometimes very good, usually very bad, depending on build and pack
  • Mechanics: images have 5% of normal life, trigger on-kill effects and Area Damage, award no progression, illusions will start spawning when hit points are reduced slightly under full life (~95% HP), cast happens only when damage is taken (after cooldown is ready)
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Illusionist can be a boon and a curse. Illusions by themselves do not give extra progression, but can proc Area Damage or on-kill effects, which can be useful for either damaging the real enemies or gaining other benefits. On the other hand, Illusions also completely un-buff themselves from any effects and debuffs the player might have put on them, which would have to be reapplied and can be problematic for certain builds.

It is possible to stay targeted to the right elite by namelocking the right target. This is done by simply holding down your attack button with the cursor still on the elite (so that you see its health bar and affixes at the top of the screen). After the split, your character will automatically turn and keep attacking the right one, which you can identify quickly this way.

Running too far away, around 3 screens, will despawn the Illusions previously present, but also typically lead to new ones being spawned right away. Illusions can also bring incredibly strong benefits to your push, as certain monster types' illusions are able to spawn real monsters that give real progression. The most important ones to mention here are:

  • Yellow Terror Demon with Enslaved Nightmare minions
  • Yellow Unburied with Tomb Guardian Minions
  • Blue or Yellow Maggot Broods (mostly useful for on-kill effects only)
  • Blue Shrieking Terrors (requires nearby Boggits)

Especially the first two are very strong and can fill your entire progress bar in time on their own. The strategy here is to try to circle around the area and keep the spawner minions engaged in the fight, so that they will keep summoning illusions, which will then proceed to produce more enemies that you can kill. Check out this video to see the Tomb Guardian Illusionists with 1000s of skeletons in action: Welcome to the PTR Waiting Room

Jailer

  • Crowd-control affix
  • Element: Arcane
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Arcane Resistance
  • Impact: quite low, unless you have absolutely no Crowd Control Resistance
  • Mechanics: 2 sec duration, can be broken by mobility skills

Jailer elites are usually not a big concern, at least for classes or builds with high uptime of Crowd Control immunity (Vengeance, Akarat's Champion, Wrath of the Berserker, Epiphany, Archon). These elites will jail you, making you unable to move and also attack in some cases as well as dealing a medium amount of damage instantly. The jail lasts for a few seconds, but can be made much less impactful with 1-2 rolls of Crowd Control Resistance on your items.

Knockback

  • Crowd-control affix
  • Impact: none if you're Crowd-Control immune, otherwise still rather low
  • Mechanics: 80% slow for 3 sec after being hit
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Knockback, other than being annoying at times when you can't avoid it, does not really do much to you. The good part about it is that just like monsters, player characters also build up Crowd Control Resistance from repeated episodes of loss of control, and at a certain point you will become immune to Knockback for a while. Be careful when you have weak mobility though, especially as a Witch Doctor or Necromancer.

Molten

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Fire
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction (DoT only), Fire Resistance
  • Impact: low, but denies you from moving or looting sometimes
  • Mechanics: 5 yards radius around the monster, 5 sec duration (ground effect), 18 yards radius explosion (can be dodged)
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Molten elites (and minions) leave behind a trail of fire where they walk, which deals a medium amount of damage. It's typically fine to walk through it without much trouble, unless you are playing a very squishy build or wear Squirt's Necklace. A little bit like Fire Chains, monsters with this affix will try to walk around you to put the fire trail under your feet, so you might have to move away sometimes. When killed, they explode after 3 seconds, causing massive damage that will usually oneshot you. This needs to be avoided at all costs.

Mortar

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Fire
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Fire Resistance
  • Impact: easy for melee, difficult for ranged builds
  • Mechanics: 3 yards radius for direct hit, 11.5 yards for collateral damage, 3 projectiles per cast, can be dodged
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Mortars can be very dangerous for immobile builds and almost completely harmless for melee builds as they can't fall closer than 25 yards away from the monster. Every few seconds, the elites will fire mortars, which will fall down in a marked area around the player. The warning sign on the ground only marks the area of direct hit which deals heavy damage and can even oneshot some squishy builds. You can still get hit by collateral damage if you don't get far enough away from the impact zone, but it deals significantly less damage. Wizards using Slow Time have to be extra careful as the Mortars will fall down on the ground where they enter the bubble, and not on the marked spot.

Nightmarish

  • Crowd-control affix
  • Impact: usually low/none, sometimes annoying
  • Mechanics: 3 sec fear when hit, can be triggered by other affixes
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Nightmarish is another Crowd Control affix, which will occasionally fear you when hit by attacks or affixes of an elite. This can be very annoying for builds that don't have any permanent Crowd Control immunity, but can be heavily mitigated by some CC-resistance rolls on your secondaries. Also, the more you are getting feared, the more you build up Crowd-Control resistance for a little while, which you can use to your advantage to attack and move freely after you've become immune.

Orbiter

  • Offensive passive
  • Element: Lightning
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Lightning Resistance
  • Impact: very dangerous, stay away
  • Mechanics: 1 central orb (5 yards radius) with 5-9 orbiting (3 yards), lasts 15 sec

Orbiters spawn a few lightning orbs in the air, one of which lies immobile in the center and the rest floating around in a circular pattern. This affix deals very high damage and should be avoided when possible. Also be careful about Orbiters coming out of walls when fighting in narrow spots like a Keep Depths map.

Plagued

  • Offensive passive
  • Element: Poison
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Poison Resistance
  • Impact: can be ignored usually
  • Mechanics: 10 yards radius, damage stops with 1 sec delay
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Plagued is by far the most harmless offensive affix elites can have. It deals very low damage and is typically ignored for the most part, however the damage it deals slowly ramps up over time the longer you stay in it. Only when you are really struggling to get your life back up because of a lot of other sources of incoming damage, you should try to move out of it to heal up more easily. The DoT-damage stays the same no matter how many pools are stacked on top of each other, what's important is that you leave the poisoned area as a whole to reset the DoT.

Poison Enchanted

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Poison
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Poison Resistance
  • Impact: very dangerous, do not walk over it
  • Mechanics: 3 yards width, summons 4 pools per cast, 2sec trigger time, ground effect lasts for 6 sec

The elite will spawn a poison pool on the ground, which will expand in a X-pattern after a few seconds. It deals very high DoT-damage, so make sure to avoid it once you see it spawning. After a few seconds, it will disappear and be safe to walk through it again.

Reflects Damage

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: All
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Resistances (of the type you attack with)
  • Impact: hurts when you take too many hits at once
  • Mechanics: lasts for up to 15 sec, shoots projectiles when hit
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Reflect activates on one of the pack's members every once in a while, and when struck they will shoot a small orange projectile towards you. The damage of the projectile is not depending on your own damage, depending on the difficulty setting it will always deal the same amount of damage, and be of the same type of the attack that triggered the bolt. It's possible to dodge it to avoid the damage. This affix can be especially dangerous for melee builds and those that have very weak resistances against their own damage type (e.g. fire-based builds, as that resistance is typically of low priority on your secondary rolls).

Shielding

  • Defensive affix
  • Impact: terrible, don't hesitate to skip when things are not going well
  • Mechanics: 5 sec duration, one monster at a time, deactivates when only one member is left
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Shielding is one of the worst affixes to find on an elite. It doesn't do anything to you, but the fact that one of the members of the pack will randomly become immune to your attacks (especially when you are playing builds with irregular damage spikes (like Fan of Knives, Tempest Rush Flurry) can prove very annoying and ultimately force you to skip a pack that has a lone survivor because of bad timing on the shield. The shield has a short animation to warn you which one will be immune for the next time.

Teleporter

  • Offensive affix
  • Impact: medium, makes kiting and killing a bit more difficult
  • Mechanics: can teleport both to and away from the player
  • Minions will inherit this affix

Teleporter is a rather annoying affix, as it can be very difficult to kite these and keep them inside a pick pull when you are pushing. Every few seconds, the elites will randomly move to another nearby spot, effectively spreading out and away from the pack that you would otherwise use to kill them with Area Damage. Because of that, be mindful about this affix.

Thunderstorm

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Lightning
  • Mitigated by: Ranged Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Lightning Resistance
  • Impact: neither particularly safe or dangerous
  • Mechanics: impact area of 12 yards radius, 5 strikes per cast

Thunderstorm is a quite dangerous affix for squishy builds and typically not a big deal for tanky builds. The elite will spawn a series of lightning strikes at the position of the character which can be moved out of, after the first 1-2 hits. If you are very high in mobility or have an immunity skill (e.g. Smoke Screen), it's possible to avoid all damage completely if you predict the timing of the cast.

Vortex

  • Offensive affix
  • Element: Physical
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Physical Resistance
  • Impact: can be devastating if you are not prepared

Vortex is a dangerous affix if you cannot be immune to Crowd Control effects. Elites can pull you right in their middle, potentially pairing up with other dangerous affixes like Arcane Enchanted, Fire Chains or Molten, which can be devastating as you might even get suck in the monsters. Be very careful about such combinations and position yourself accordingly. If you are using skills like Vengeance, make sure you won't leave a gap between your casts if possible, as Vortex elites will typically wait until they have a viable target to cast on, so they will immediately pull you in when you give them a chance.

Waller

  • Offensive affix
  • Impact: typically the worst affix to find
  • Mechanics: 6 sec duration, can be passed with free movement such as Illusory Boots or Awareness, Blues summon one wall, Yellows summon three walls in a rectangular shape with one exit

Waller is overall one of the worst possible affixes. It's not only annoying but a serious issue in pushing (both solo and group), for almost any build. In some cases, e.g. for Multishot[/d3planner-build], it can be especially impactful to your overall DPS output, as you might get walled off exactly on your nuke cycle with Convention of Elements + Oculus Ring and essentially lose a whole 16 seconds just from one well-timed wall (and the same might happen over and over again due to the short cooldown of the affix). Waller elites are one of those you should not hesitate much with when you are deciding whether to skip or not. To help with this issue, you can use the Bottomless Potion of Kulle-Aid to break walls for a short period every 30 seconds, which you can use right before a nuke cycle to clean up a bit. It can be useful to stay outside of the pull on one side for a short time before the cooldown is up, to bait out the Waller cast in a more convenient area, right before you jump back into position for your nuke.

Wormhole

  • Crowd-control affix
  • Element: Arcane
  • Mitigated by: Melee Damage Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction, Arcane Resistance
  • Impact: can be dangerous, helpful, or be ignored, depending on the situation
  • Mechanics: two circles with 6 yards radius, 1 sec transfer time

Wormhole is both a very annoying and dangerous affix at the same time. Not only does the ground effect itself deal a lot of damage, but you might easily be transported right into the middle of the pull where you could die from many other affixes and attacks in a split second, or you could get moved away exactly when you are trying to nuke down your enemies. Either way, be careful about where you tread and try to bait out Wormholes away from the spot you want to stand in. They stay on the ground for quite long so it's possible to play around it. In groups especially when the Trash Clearer is very immobile and not able to move away from a Wormhole, you can have the support players stand on top of them to give a chance of not getting wormholed. On the other hand, it can also sometimes be used to your advantage to escape dangerous situations and it's also possible to avoid the damage when timing your mobility or immunity skills properly just as you enter.


Summary

Elites have a broad range of possible affixes, which leads to a lot of variety in the difficulty of the fights and requires constant decision making about which to engage versus which to skip. Some combinations can help you and be incredible easily, while others can literally destroy your run (when pushing) because they weaken your ability to DPS or make pulls severely. To protect yourself from offensive affixes, try to increase your resistances, Melee or Ranged Damage Reduction, Control Impairing Effects Reduction, Elite Damage Reduction or use Esoteric Alteration.


I hope this overview helps you to better understand and outplay elites in those tough fights, be it when pushing or just trying to optimize your farming.

Good luck!

Info compiled by wudijo.