|The 'Shadow Walker' (Pure Claw/Venom)
Some of you know me, some of you don't. So I'll quickly
introduce myself. I'm a fan of soloing HC assassins in players8 mode, and
particularly close combat, C/C assassins. I've read some posts asking about C/C
assassins using Venom, but have never seen a guide about that build which was the
first I tested in 1.10. My 1.09 assassin was using CM/DC/CoT/WoI and was
of course not efficient in 1.10
If that build asks for real good equipment
to be playable in Hell mode, it is really fun to play, since it
asks a real mastery of various skills. This is (for the moment) the most fun
build I've tested
This assassin is not a hybrid in the sense of a
combination of MA/Trap skills, but she makes much use of Shadow skills.
She chooses to follow the path of the Shadow.
Finally, I've not
tested it in PvP, but I believe it's more a PvM build.
of the C/C assassin :
Drawbacks of the C/C assassin :[*]Less defense, and in
general less PDR[*]In general less resistances (except if you
use Jade Talon)[/list]
- Less need of dexterity, so more vitality
- Block is not divided when running, and you can block magic attacks
- More chance to hit : DC's AR bonus is awesome !
- Attacks are faster (5 frames per swing, instead of 7 for a C/S using
HF : Holy Freeze
DC : Dragon Claw
CoT : Claws of
DF : Dragon Flight
CM : Claw Mastery
BoS : Burst of
CoS : Cloak of Shadows
WB : Weapon Block
MB : Mind Blast
SW : Shadow Warrior
SM : Shadow Master
BF : Blade Fury
: Death Sentry
BShield : Blade Shield
CS : Critical Strike
DStrike : Deadly Strike
OW : Open Wounds
ITD : Ignore Target’s
PMH : Prevent Monster Heal
CB : Crushing Blow
striking : Chance to Cast on striking
Life Leech : life leech
ml : mana
res : resistances
FR : Fire Resistance
CR : Cold
LR : Lightning Resistance
PsnR : Poison Resistance
: % Reduce Damage
FHR : Faster Hit Recovery
FRW : Faster Run Walk
CBF : Cannot Be Frozen
PI : Immune to Physical
AR : Attack
Slvl : Skill Level
Clvl : Character Level
Str : Strength
Dexterity : Dexterity
+ % ED : + Enhanced Damage
My first impression was that, contrary
to the 1.09 version, a soloing assassin desperately needed a Shadow. If MB
allows you to have extra 'tankers' most of times, having a Shadow makes
the job easier (a lot easier !). And seeing a Shadow killing some monsters
of her own is sweet
Well, AR and Dmgs ... main attack
Of course that type of
assassin will rely on claws.
Maxing CM is not a must-do, since the AR bonus is negligible before DC's
one. 15 pts allows to have a good CS %, and with good +skills you'll have
the max %.
Max Venom :
Venom IS a great skill. It adds
a lot of poison damage, and last the durations of 1 DC attack at top speed. Very
useful, and quite deadly against monsters who don't have high Poison
1-5 BoS :
Really important. If you start with no stuff at
all, you'll need to invest some points in it. The number of skill points
depends on the equipment you want to use on the latter stages of the
WB allows to block with claws. Less effective
than a shield, it does not need dexterity investment, and does not suffer
'running-penalty'. Once again, the number of skills points depends on the
equipment you'll have later. I think that a 9-10 slvl is good for PvM.
A must-have in 1.10. Raises your
monsters or enemy's one, prevents monsters (except bosses/Oblivions Knight)
from using spells, creating broodlings, fleeing (fallens, etc ...). It's
only drawback is that you have to wait for the last one to fade to be
allowed to cast another one. It will be really useful since DC is no
longer uninterruptible, so you must not be rounded by monsters !
Once again a must-have.
Here is a small thingy
which is a GREAT improvement. Adds ¾ of your total claw damage. Will
provide a great attack against dangerous monsters, and is not affected by
IM !! Beware, CM needs AR, so if you're using an ITD weapon, do not forget
to put the other one claw as the 'off-hand' claw (equip the second claw
0-1 DF :
A 'comfort' skill, always useful
Also a comfort skill. I've not used it since I played in 8 players
0-1 BShield :
Only to make your
assassin look cool... the
interest is really limited.
0-1 Cobra :
That skill will be
useful if you start from crap. It asks to put a 1-prereq skill pt in
That's the easy
For the one playing HC :
Str : what needed to wear your equipment
Energy : nothing
Vita : all the others
For the players in SC :
Str : what needed to wear
Dexterity and vita : what you want (100 pts in dexterity
<=> 75% skill-like ED=.
As you surely guessed, that build
is far less flexible than a kicker or a trapper concerning the equipment.
Each time I'll try to give several possibilities.
In Normal mode, magic
or rare pieces of equipment will do the job. However, be careful with
resistances (specially lit and fire)
In NM mode, you'll probably need a
better equipment. Starting from crap will surely be hard ^^, and I can
only advise to use crafted items to enhance your equipment. Don't hesitate
in running Mephisto in NM too
In Hell, you'll need to have a good
equipment, and a really good one if you play HC, with
Let's start with Weapons. Top claws are
of course Bartuc, Jade Talon, Firelizard's Talon and Nat Claw.
I don't speak about Fury and Chaos claws, which are really good (since CM does not bring 100%CS, fury is now a really good
choice). They need HUGE amount of gold or Ort runes to
- Bartuc : Everybody knows these. +skills, +str, +dext, good dmgs, can
be upgraded in solo and ladder (even if it's not the better weapon to
upgrade), Life Leech, FHR. In my opinion, you need at least one
- Jade Talon : A 'shield-claw', because of the resistances. Brings
mana leech (10-15% ml). Finally, it brings FHR too. Yet, its damages are
quite low compared to the other claws, and it cant be upgraded, and it
does not grant high skill boost.
- Firelizard’s Talon : A great claw, with good fire dmg. That claw can
also be used against PIs with Tiamat and Venom.
- Natalya’s Mark : Good dmgs (don't forget the ED vs. demons and
undead). It deals more dmg than a non ethereal Bartuc. ITD mode is also
good, specially when used with BF against bosses and champions. Yet, it
lacks ... everything else. So use it only with the complete
- Vampire Gaze : well, everybody knows
- Tal Rasha’s Horadric Crest : There too a good helm. Higher Life Leech
ml, resistances, but no PDR.
- Harlequin’s Crest : Useful for its life bonus and PDR. Good, but IMO
not the best for that build.
- Crown of Thieves : The better Life Leech helm, with a good bonus dext.
Really good in later NM, not really hard to find, but will surely be not
enough for Hell.
- Rockstopper : FHR, res, PDR. Really good one. Its only drawback IMO
is that it grants no Life Leech or ml (in diablo3, possibility to 'mix' 2 items
to have some of the bonuses of both ?)
- Stealskull : A lesser 'Tal mask', but with ml.
- Natalya’s Totem : Res, str, dext, magic DR. But once again, since
it has no Life Leech, ml or PDR, I would only use it in NM mode or in Hell with
the complete set.
For a low and mid lvl assassin, a good crafted or
rare armor, or Twitchtroe, can be good enough
- Shaftstop : One of the most used pieces of armor : lots of PDR and life. Quite
a good AC, more if upgraded, without having a high str requirement.
- Lionheart : Excellent runic armor (110 hp), resistances,. Yet, it
does not grant PRD
- Nat Armor : Same thing than for the helm : best used with the
For me, String of Ears is THE belt. Brings PRD and Life Leech. If you
have no String, you can use a good craft/rare belt, or Wilhelm's Pride.
Hwanin is good too, for it brings PMH
Of course, the combo Sigon
Belt/Gloves is as usual really useful !
The Death set belt can be a
good option too (CBF)
Of course, Sigon Boots used with another
part of the set brings 10% Life Leech
- Natalya’s Soul : Good res, but once again I would use it with the
complete set if you have better boots
- War Travellers : Really good ones !!
- Gore Riders : great for mods such as DStrike, CB, OWsympa pour les
mods (DS, CB, OW).
You can also use crafted boots if you
have some luck ;)
The amulet is a real important
part of the equipment, since the various bonuses it brings will surely
decide what you'll wear on armor/gloves
Crafted amulets are sometimes awesome. It's quite easy to
obtain the different parts of the recipe, yet it needs luck to have top
- Highlord’s Wrath : For me, the best since the 1.10. DStrike is
awesome, and the IAS is great since you won't need any other source of
IAS. With a slvl 20 CM, and a clvl 90 char, you've got almost 50% chance
do deal double dmg!
- Crescent Moon : Very good since it grants Life Leech and ml
- Mara’s Kaleidoscope : If Crescent Moon grants Life Leech and ml, with that
amulet you'll have skills and resistances. Yet, real good crafted amulets can
do better (with a lot of luck)
- The Eye of Etlich : A great amulet : +1 all skills and Life Leech
The goal here is to have Life Leech and
- If you have no CBF on your stuff, of course keep a Raven on you (or
at least in your stash) or some monsters will cause you troubles.
- Crafted rings (or rare) are best, with Life Leech, res, dext, life, str ...
- For low lvls, Cathan are of course really useful
- Bul Kathos rings are really good now, but they just have low lvl Life Leech
Gloves are like amulets : very
Of course, for all of these they are
quite a lots of other possibilities. I've only put the ones who seemed the
most interesting to me, and I can have forgotten some (and perhaps a lot
- Sigon's Gloves : Well, with the boots or the belt, you'll have 30%
extra IAS. Great !
- Crafted Gloves : if you have no other IAS source, try to have 20%
IAS crafted gloves (or rare of course). If you manage to obtain 20% IAS
/ +2 MA skills, that's even better ;)
- Laying of Hands : These gloves rock, since they afford 20% IAS and a
high source of dmg against Demons
- Venom Grip : These exceptional unique gloves are good. They bring
5% Life Leech. They don't bring IAS
- Soul Drainer : These 1.10 gloves grants Life Leech and ml, and cast Weaken on
striking. So it's really useful. Alas, They don't bring IAS
- Dracul’s Grasp : Life Leech has been nerfed. Blizzard gave us Dracul's
Grasp. For me they are the best. They cast life tap on striking, grant Life Leech, str, and 25% OW. With life tap you can leech on every non PI monster
(so even skeletons)
runes and charms
IMO, the best way to socket your claws is (if they are not runewords of course)
with a jewel +3x% ED/+1x mas dmg (finding 40%/15max is utopia). For all claws,
these jewels are better than the Ohm Rune, given the ED and the max dmg are
decent. Don't hesitate in socketing a claw, in the 1.10 it's now possible de
unsocket quite easily. All you'll loose is the jewel or the rune.
Concerning armors and helms ... well it's depend on what you lack. If you lack
resistance, find a resistance jewel. Additional ED/Max jewels are a really good
Finally, for the luckiest and/or richest, it sometime can be useful to socket
your armor/helm with the Cham Rune, since it will save you a ring.
Concerning Charms, they mainly should be Max dmg/AR/other mod, or resistance
Another important thing is your FHR. The breakpoints are the following (in 1.09,
I don't think they've changed in 1.10) :
You can try and reach the breakpoint you aim at by using charms in addition of
your equipment. Don't forget that a magic charm and 3 perfect gems reroll the
properties of the charm
7. Against PIs
Against these charming damn creatures, that assassin has got several options. I've
not talked about the alternative weapons.
It must be taken into consideration that Venom does good dmg against PIs, but
some of them have the bad idea to have good resists against Poison (and some are
even immune to Poison, such as ghosts and the baboon monsters in Nihlathak
- The unique FireLizard's Talon grants huge damage of fire. It is of course
possible to add a jewel with magic dmg.
- The Chaos runic word, with huge magic damage, to which almost non of the
PIs will resist (very little monsters are Magic Immune)
- A magic claw dealing elemental (fire/cold/lit) dmg.
- A socketed claw with runes/gems/jewels adding elemental dmg.
- A weapon with elemental damage and ITD.
- The Famine runeword (really great !!!)
- Tiamat Rebuke, socketed with a good elemental jewel
- A 3 socketed shield, with elemental jewels
Another possibility is using a weapon casting AMP, that will almost always
break the physical immunity (such as Atma amulet). Don't forget that you can use BF to protect you from these PIs, since against
them you won't leech life.
8. The Hireling
You'll have the choice between the Might hireling or the Holy Freeze one. The
first will bring you additional damage, and will deal higher damage himself,
while the other will slow the enemies. He will need good equipment too,
principally Life Leech and PDR.
In my opinion good equipment would be the following :
Armor : Shaft or LionHeart
Helm : Vampire Gaze or Tal Rasha's Crest
Weapon : Well ... my preference goes for Hone Sundan, specially if you can have
one ethereal upgraded into elite version. Socket with 3 Amn runes ;)
9. Some tactics
The goal is to be able to use DC quickly. Of course, at the beginning, you
won't do enough damage to leech back the mana spent. But when you find enough
ml, use DC.
The Normal mode should be easy. Put some points in SM, and spend some points
in Venom too. Since the monsters resistances are pretty low, Venom will be a
quick killer ! Don't forget to put 1 point in CoS and MB
The amount of skill points invested in BoS should depend on which equipment
you want to use later in the game. Of course, if you start from crap, don't
hesitate in putting some points in it (5 I'd say).
Finally, if you want to use BF, don't wait.
Try to wait for clvl 50 before entering NM
Things tend to become a little bit harder. Up until clvl 60-70, just level up
CM, DC, Venom. You can also spend additional points in WB. In general, a total
of 9-10 in that skill is quite enough in PvM, with skill bonuses. Put some
points in SM when you see it becoming too feeble. You'll probably have to use CoS
and MB sometimes; in general, use CoS against ranged monsters, and MB against
Don't forget to hire your mercenary in act 2. The 'conversion bug' does not
exist anymore in 1.10, so don't worry. Don't hesitate in doing Mephisto and Baal
runs in case of poor equipment.
Things become tricky here. You'll need to use a lot CoS and/or MB. If you have
Dracul's Grasp, now that the Life Tap curse and CoS override each other, so cast
CoS first, and once Life Tap has been cast, use only MB. CoS and MB will clearly
be your best friends!
Don't hesitate into using BF against Fire Enchanted monsters, since they can
deal huge damage, and can hurt you to death when dying.
build and Alternative Build
This is the equipment I use :
Natalya's Odium set
- One 36%ED/12 max jewel in claw
- One 32%ED/1-77 lit dmg jewel in Helm
- One Cham rune, 2 3x%ED/+1x max jewels in Armor
Perfect upgraded Bartuc
(almost) Perfect String
2 Life Leech crafted rings with resistances
As you see, it's good stuff, but I've spent in it the best I've found in 3 years
of intensive playing.
An alternative build possible use FoF. As you surely know, FoF, when liberated,
transforms a percentage of your physical damage into fire damage. The goal is to
have your SM at slvl 17 with +skills, and have a high slvl FoF (you can
eventually not max out CM, and put only 15 pts in it). It works very well too,
yet you'll need mana potions some times
There it is, please give feedback.
PS : I'm not a native English speaker, so I hope I did not make too many errors