How does a monster choose which player to attack?


New member
Dec 7, 2003
How does a monster choose which player to attack?

So I do some baal runs with two other people. I use a level 94 fanatic zealot with stormlash. Two other are a level 95 fanatic zealot with BoTD zerk, and a level 92 hammerdin. Whenever we are in worldstone chamber, I'm always the one gettin nailed. Baal simply ignore the other two player and on my *** the whole time (I mean it, 100% of the time). Even if I were to get far away and hid behind a pillar, he still shoots in my direction. :rant:

But if I were to switch to a level 91 bliz sorc, all is okay as baal suddely interested in someone else. :uhhuh:

I can't figure out what is it, it's not the level, not the damage potential, and not proximity.
Maybe he just doesn't like you????? :lol:

Seriously though, I thought I read in a thread somewhere that a monster will attack the player/ minion that is dealing him the most physical damage at the time. I can't remember which thread it was in and am probably making it up!

You'd have to think proximity has a great deal to do with it though.....EDIT: As in, if they see you first they will always try to wail on you.

grogs said:
a monster will attack the player/ minion that is dealing him the most physical damage at the time
Indeed. You should be proud of your pally :teeth:
I seriously doubt it. The BOTD guy tops 10k damage with all the aura (conc, might) on, while I'm doing 6k max, with the pitiful min damage on the scourge. :scratch:
Had that experience too. Twice in fact. Once was playing as a werebear and my friend was using a hammerdin. NM Diablo just kept on bone prisoning and LBoDing my friend while I was killing him with CB. The other time was the Hell Ancients and the same situation happened. It was quite funny. :lol:

Maybe Baal just didn't like that paladin of yours.
Damage is certainly not the only thing.

Monsters tend to love Gumby. I can cast him somewhere, and monsters will turn around and go for him, even though my skeleton warriors and my merc deal way more physical damage. I'm probably dealing more physical damage... but Gumby seems to be high priority for being a target.

On the other hand, on the last ladder, I had a M'avina amazon. I would stand somewhere at the edge of the screen in chaos sanctuary, cast my Valk right in front of Diablo --- and he would just run around her ('cause she is in the way) and chase me instead. Valk, Decoy... doesn't matter, Diablo just ignored them.
My theory is that when Baal fixates on you, he wouldn't change until he makes a brand-new decision. So if you make a TP and force Baal to attack someone else, it could work.

PS: otherwise, I have no idea whats going on. Sucks with ancients though when they ignore your merc, valk and decoy to run after you!
I have had all those experiences. With my frenzybarb, monsters pound on my merc, despite all my attempts to draw their attention.

With my sorc, despite all my merc attempts to draw their attention, they chase me around until they are heavily blocked. This is a huge pain when they refuse to stand still in a firewall!

Monster AI is different for different monsters, though. In my experience, ranged monsters target the closest, while big melee monsters target the weakest until it becomes too much effort. Especially when slowed somehow, they switch to nearby targets.

Have you tried going to town, letting Bhaal switch targets, and then coming back? Have you tried asking Bhaal out on a date?
You're not always the first to enter the Worldstone Chamber, or the first to actually get within sight range of Baal, are you?
You seem to have high CB, static, could be more damage as 10k on the first hits with baal.

do you have the highest % slow ?

Baal (and also Diablo) targets the clay golum before the skellies and the golem does not do any notable damage.

Monster AI is a complex matter. It is not the same for every monster by any means, there is a file that defines how certain monsters or groups of monsters behave.

Most of them make a "decision" every so often, which might be to change targets or to try a different attack. Initially they will almost always target the first player/merc/minion they see, but some will change their minds quickly (ie as soon as they land their first hit, they'll "decide" again). These decisions are typically random though, for regular monsters.

Baal is a bit different. His AI params are not exposed in the text files like regular monsters' are. I guess they hard code them to keep them secret. And he seems quite a bit smarter than your average demon. He tends to target Clay Golems because he knows they are very dangerous to him. He will also target an attacker that is currently able to do static field or crushing blow damage to him, or Slow him, with a fairly high priority. A bit of testing could nail down exactly the order he checks in.
If nobody has any of these "dangerous" mods on them I expect he just goes for biggest physical damage next. But I have not researched this so this is just speculation from my own experience.
I see, so it's probably the stormlash. I'll switch to a cracked dagger next time and see if it affects anything.

Damn stormlash, I need a BoTD. :D
Could it also be that your light radius is bigger. That mod has to do something.

Monsters generally like fire golums a lot, just because there holy fire aura hits them first.
I've read in a few places that it's a combination of "whomever is dealing out the most damage" and/or "who ever is closer" to the monster.

My theory is that Baal knows which enemy has the least hitpoints and gets them out of the way first. However, that wouldn't be the truth.

The truth is that AI is such that ALL monsters hold a grudge for whatever class has kicked their butt the most time and thus they become bias towards attacking that class first. :rolleyes:
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