The History of the Secret Cow Level
Many players of the original Diablo will remember the mysterious rumor that there was a Secret Cow Level. The
story went that by clicking on a specific cow in Tristram a certain number of times, you could access a
wondrous place known as the Secret Cow Level. There was, of course, no Cow Level in Diablo, but the legend
was born. When StarCraft was released, it featured a cheat code, "There is no cow level". This was our way
of officially confirming that there was, in fact, no Secret Cow Level. During the production of Diablo II,
gamers often asked if there would be any cows to battle in the game. On April 1st, 1999, a Diablo II
Screenshot of the Week featured cows fighting. People wondered if the screenshot was an April Fool's joke
or if there really was a Secret Cow Level planned for Diablo II. When Diablo II was released, a quest item
called The Horadric Cube allowed players to combine items to create new items. It wasn't long before players
were experimenting with Cube combinations, hoping to find the keys to unlock new and powerful secrets.
Eventually a recipe was discovered that revealed the most anticipated secret of them all -- the Secret Cow
Level in Diablo II!
Traveling to the Secret Cow Level
To be able to create the red cow portal leading to the Secret Cow Level your character must first complete the "Eve of Destruction" quest (the final quest in Act V) on the same difficulty setting.
NOTE: The Secret Cow Level holds a hidden quest: killing the Cow King (sometimes referred to as "milking" the Cow King; see why below).
There is a slight downside, however: completing this quest disables the Horadric recipe used to create the cow portal, for that character on that difficulty setting. It works as follows:
Suppose the cow portal has been created and someone (henceforth: "Kingslayer") kills the Cow King. By definition the Kingslayer is the character that lands the killing blow on the Cow King (if a mercenary or any other friendly unit delivers the final blow, it counts for the character (s)he/it serves). Be aware that anyone may enter the Secret Cow Level through the cow portal.
We use the following terminology based on quest status:
a) "Pre-opener": a character who has not yet completed the "Eve of Destruction" quest on this difficulty (and thus cannot create the cow portal yet).
b) "Cow-quester": a character who completed the "Eve of Destruction" quest but not the Cow King quest on this difficulty.
c) "Ex-opener": a character who completed the Cow King quest in a previous game on this difficulty (and thus cannot create the cow portal).
Only characters INSIDE the Secret Cow Level at the very instant when the Cow King is slain can potentially complete the quest.
(1) IF Kingslayer was a or c, THEN everyone is unaffected, i.e. Cow King quest status does not change.
(2) IF Kingslayer was b, THEN every a and b INSIDE at that time permanently loses the ability to create the cow portal on this difficulty setting.
Note that in case 2 even characters who complete the Baal quest afterwards will nonetheless remain unable to create the cow portal.
Also note that it makes no difference if you are in a party or not. Location: INSIDE/OUTSIDE at the time of the kill is what matters here.
Because of the above: When in doubt, keep out!
In addition to the somewhat randomly generated items The Cow King always drops 8 x Stamina Potion (MooOOOooo, MILK!) when killed for the quest. Since these potions are not dropped otherwise, they serve to verify if it was in fact a quest kill.
Go to the Rogue Encampment in Act I. Place one Tome of Town Portal + Wirt's Leg into the Horadric
Cube and hit the Transmute button. A Red Portal will now open to the Secret Cow Level. You must transmute
this combination in the Rogue Encampment for the portal to open. If you hear a message, "I can't do that"
then you are doing something wrong. Make sure you have completed the last quest in Act V, that you have
placed the correct items in the Horadric Cube, and that you are transmuting the items in the correct location.
Wirt's Leg can be secured in Tristram. Wirt's body is located in the top left quadrant of the town. Click
on Wirt's body and, amid a shower of gold, his Leg will drop on the ground. Don't worry if you have been
there before and forgot to get the Leg -- you can always go back and get another one by returning to the
Stony Field and entering the Red Portal into Tristram.
Once you have Wirt's Leg, return to the Rogue Encampment and put it and a Tome of Town Portal into your
Horadric Cube. The Tome does not need to be filled to work, so if you do not want to use the Tome you have
filled with 20 Town Portals, you can simply buy an almost empty one from Akara.
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Secret Cow Level Tips
The Secret Cow Level can be very easy or very hard depending on your class, and what skills you use. The first
thing you will notice is there are a LOT of cows. Exploring is not a wise idea, as you will quickly have an
unbelievable number of Cows on your trail. Try to avoid being surrounded by the Cows at all costs.
Use area effect spells if possible, such as the Necromancer's Corpse Explosion. The Sorceress can
employ Fire Wall, Chain Lightning, Frozen Orb or Blizzard to great effect. Barbarians can use Grim Wards, Howl and Whirlwind.
Amazons can use Freezing Arrows, Decoy and Valkyrie to keep the Cows at bay. Paladins can use Conversion and their
Thorns aura. Druids can use Fissure, Tornado, Hurricane and Armageddon. Assassins can use Wake of Inferno, Death Sentry, Claws of Thunder, Blades of Ice, Phoenix Strike and the Shadow Master.
Try to stay in one area until you kill all of the cows in a pack. Try to not run around too much until you
have cleared out the cows in your area or you run the risk of attracting too many cows.
Opening another Town Portal of your own is highly advised. The biggest danger of the Secret Cow Level is in
training (leading) a large number of Cows back to the Red Portal, and then dying. If you die next to this
Portal, you will most likely be unable to enter the Secret Cow Level since so many Cows will make short work
of an unequipped adventurer. If you have cast another Town Portal located elsewhere in the level, then you
can re-enter and lure the Cows away from your corpse. When first entering the Secret Cow Level, a good
strategy is to immediately run a medium distance in a straight line, away from the Red Portal. Once you
have done this, open up your own Town Portal. This way, if you die, you will now be able to enter either
the Red Portal or your other Town Portal to get back to your body.
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The leader of the Cows is the Cow King. He is a Lightning Enchanted, SuperUnique Hell Bovine. If you can kill him, he
may drop something special.
The Cow King can be difficult to recognize because of his similar appearance to the other cows.
You will know you have found him when he releases his bovine Lightning Bolts. He is often
found near his Corral of Corruption, a wooden, fort-like structure.
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