PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin by Speederlander

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederlander (Part 1 of 8)
Originally Posted Aug 18, 2005

Note: This guide was originally written for BNet. Please bear in mind it may recommend items not found or permitted in Single Player.

PvP Fast-cast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin Guide

Pre-Introduction
This guide focuses on strategy, not items and stats (though I will discuss both). As such it is useful for the build in the title (WW/Kick/Stun), 'ghost' style pure WW assassins, 'ghost' style pure kickers, BvC barbs (since there are a lot of practical whirlwind pointers), trappers, and anyone else interested in good dueling techniques. It is largely unchanged after the latest patch releases. I have altered some portions of the equipment section to reflect the hellfire charm. These changes are really minimal. It just means a bit more pre-planning, yet another 'perfect stat' expensive charm that everyone has to try and get, and added flexibility in stats and the like. Hopefully this guide will have a long and useful life.

Enjoy!

Quick List of Acronyms:

AoE - area of effect
AR - attack rating
BS - blade shield
CB - claw block (also WB - weapon block)
CoA - crown of ages
CTA - call to arms
DF - dragon flight
DR - damage reduction (physical)
DT - dragon talon
FHR - fast hit recovery
GC - grand charm
IAS - increased attack speed
KB - knockback
LS - lightning sentry
MB - mind blast
OW - open wounds
PLR - poison length reduction
Res - resistance
SC - small charm
SM - shadow master
WB - weapon block (also CB - claw block)
WW - whirlwind

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction
2. Build Goals
3. Note on Damage
4. Note on Attack Rating
5. Note on Claw Block
6. Note on Mana
7. Note on Mercs
8. Skills
9. Equipment
10. Alternate Equipment Set-up
11. Notes on Armor Choice
12. General Notes on Equipment
13. Anya Bug
14. Attribute Points
15. Notes on Poison Damage
  • The Double Application Feature
  • The Hidden Hell PLR
16. Notes on Open Wounds
17. Notes on Speed
18. Chance to Cast and Stun with Dragon Talon
19. General Strategy and Technique Guide
20. General Match-up Notes
21. Class-Variant Strategy Breakdown
Necromancer
  1. Bone Necros
  2. Standard Bone Nec Technique
  3. Bone Necs with Minions
  4. Defensive Bone Necs
  5. Poison Nova Necs
Sorceress
  1. Fireball Sorcs
  2. Frozen Orb Sorcs
  3. Lightning Sorcs
  4. Light Sorc with Conviction Merc
  5. Light Sorc with Conviction Merc and Auto-Aim
  6. Blizzard Sorcs
  7. Blizzard Sorcs with Auto-Aim
  8. Energy Shield Sorcs
Druid
  1. Wind Druids
Assassin
  1. Trappers
  2. Trapper Type 1: claw-claw
  3. Trapper Type 2: 102 FC, hoto/shield
  4. 'Evade' Trappers
  5. Trapper with a conviction merc
  6. Bramble WW-Sins
Paladin
  1. Smiter/Chargers
  2. Fist of Heavens Pally
  3. Fist of Heavens Pally with Smite and Charge
  4. Hammer Pally
  5. Auradins
Amazon
  1. Bowazons
  2. Javazons
  3. Plaguezons
Barbarian
  1. WW Barbs
  2. Alternate technique vs. Barbs
22. Credits


INTRODUCTION

This build combines all of the best aspects of the kicker, whirlwind assassin, and trapper in a solid dueling framework. It uses whirlwind and dragon talon for its principal damage dealing skills. It uses teleport for its primary movement with tactical use of dragon flight in on-screen situations. It uses stun supplied by base level traps and level 42 to 50 mind blast, with high level mind blast supplying some damage dealing capacity and finishing capability at a distance of 2+ screens away with continuous cast via name-lock.

This is not a 'ghost' ww-sin. It is a ww/kick hybrid. I've been posting bits and pieces of this guide since early in ladder 1, before anyone heard of the name "ghost" attached to a ww-sin. I just happened to be doing it, at that time, with a pure kicker rather than ww assassin. Ladder 2 introduced certain items, like grief, which made pallys and melee generally very difficult. In the ladder 1 time-frame (both on and off the ladder), a tricked out kicker could hold their own in most public dueling games (even if certain melee builds could not be beaten at all). There were so many pure caster types that kickers always had good duels available. But now, there are so many paladins with a massive physical attack along with their ranged attacks (FoH, hammers, etc.), that you simply must have whirlwind. There were a LOT of paladins in ladder 2 (and off the ladder) as items and better, more refined, builds pushed more and more people toward that class. If you kicked only, you did not do well. I went into many 8 person public duel games and had 7 pallys plus myself. However, to go whirlwind only means that you lose the benefit of an extremely accurate and powerful tool against casters by forgoing kick. No matter what anyone says, kicking is the superior attack against sorcs, wind druids, necromancers, etc. You need both attacks, kicking (mostly) for casters and ww (mostly) for melee and pally casters. This doesn't mean I exclusively use kicks against necros, for example. It just means that kicks are my primary attack against certain classes. This is discussed in the strategy section below. WW + kick gives you a huge range of options in the heat of a duel. It is superior to a pure ww (whether ghost or otherwise) or any type of pure kicker. Finally, you don't need that big a skill point investment to make kicking effective, as I will outline below. There is no good reason NOT to have dragon talon as a skill!

In my opinion, this is the best PvP assassin type you can play for 1 vs. 1 duels when you are decked out. It's better 1 on 1 than a trapper, though a trapper is better in a team. I also consider this the single most demanding PvP build you can play. I've played just about every style of dueler out there at one time or another going back to the beta. Nothing has come close, in my mind, to the complexity of making this build function well. As a result, I find it endlessly interesting and fun. Much more so than playing a trapper or a bone nec or a smiter or a ww barb or any type of sorc. 99% of time you will be the aggressor and will be chasing your opponent. It's always more fun to play offensively than defensively. It also takes MUCH more skill to be a good offensive player. Anyone can run and spam their attack.

Most of this guide is about tactics and strategy. Items are items and we all know how important they are. I assume the people who go to the trouble of reading PvP strategy guides have decent items or access to such items or are willing to work to get such items. Once we are on this semi-level playing field, we can focus on technique. Good items (or at least decent ones) are critical but you can't simply spend your way to winning with this dueler. They are necessary but NOT sufficient to do well.

This guide assumes you have familiarity with assassins. If you have never played a ww sin before, or a kicker, or at least a trapper, don't start here. You'll become frustrated. Play the more common variants first. Get good at kickers, then try WW, and then perhaps some trapping. That will get you the basics for making this build work for you. Note that I'm not posting all the hit recovery, fast cast rate or ias charts as some other guides do. If you've never had to look them up before or you don't know that trapping is tied to ias and mind blast is tied to fast cast rate, then this isn't the guide you should be looking at.

This guide is built with the philosophy of doing as FEW equipment changes as possible. When I do a public dueling game (or just about any dueling game, for that matter), I want to put on my primary equipment for that game, based on the mix of players, and be able to do well w/o having to run to my stash for new equipment every time I duel someone different. Other than the occasional AR gear switch or T'Gods/Jade Talon switch, I have tried to minimize required changes. Almost all of the people who duel end up doing mostly public games, since there just aren't any big private groups left. In a public game, you can have free-for-alls, teams, and people who just jump you when you are weak after dueling someone else. You also have random traps and hits from people not even trying to hit you. If you are equipped to "duel melee", then some sorc is going to swing through and kill you due to low res, etc. If you are equipped with all your res gear and some pally decides to take a swipe, you want full DR. Having to run to your stash to switch equipment on a per-duel basis is both unrealistic and, in the end, pretty annoying. It's just like people saying they will pre-buff their venom with bramble, 3/3 claws, a shadow ammy, etc. After a couple of times it just gets old, fast. For a tourney, if it's allowed, then do it for sure. Otherwise, forget it. I want to be in a dueling game, kill a sorc, pop over and wax that necro that was observing, avoid (or kill) the smiter trying to slap me when I'm almost dead, and then still take out the annoying zon who hit me with a multishot 2 minutes ago while I was dueling the sorc. All without switching anything. I'm not saying you won't do equipment changes with my build, just that you won't do them all that often.

This build is not cheap. Further, it is complex to play and hard to master, especially with the timing of attacks and hotkey use. I will provide cheap(er) alternatives to expensive equipment whenever possible, but the use of high level rune words, certain expensive equipment, and decent charms is a must. There is no way around it. You also won't 'own" a week after you make your assassin. I've played this build, or a variation on it, over two ladders now (both on and off the ladder), always improving it. I played trappers for a year or more prior to 1.10. If you aren't willing to put in the time practicing and getting better, and losing in the beginning, you'll quit in frustration. I've even quit myself a few times.

Finally, this is a major twitch build. It requires good reflexes and a decent connection. If you lack either, you will probably have trouble making it work for you.

BUILD GOALS (numbers that we MUST hit)

1. 7/3 kick speed with either 3 or 4 kicks in a talon sequence (after battle command from CTA)
2. Final breakpoint whirlwind speed of 4 frames with all claws
3. 9 frame trap laying speed
4. 65 fast-cast breakpoint for teleport and mind blast (except when wearing some res/absorb equipment)
5. High open wounds when need demands (achieved through fury claw)
6. Massive venom damage (lvl 40 to 50 venom)
7. Largely a vitality build, to the extent possible (i.e. do NOT pump dex or str for AR or damage)
8. 60% claw block (with battle command active)
9. Max resistance in hell BEFORE the Anya quest (i.e. 75 resist all in hell not including Anya)
10. 86 FHR break point when needed without loss of other important stats (You don't always need 86 FHR, but you need to always be able to get it)
11. 50% physical damage reduction at all times (with battle command active)
12. Enough mana to allow fairly continuous teleport, trapping, mind blasting, and whirlwinding
13. Enough attack rating to hit well (see below)

These goals help us to define equipment as well as skill and stat point distribution. Look again at these goals. These are the numbers you have to hit. These are the heart of the build.

NOTE ON DAMAGE:
With the set-up I provide, your goal should be lvl 40+ venom. This is critical. In fact, level 40 is really too low. I had level 48 to 50 venom with my final assassin.

Your kick damage does not show the venom addition. Your listed screen damage will be in the 950 to 1K kick range on the max damage end. This number doesn't matter. Everyone ends up with roughly the same number.

Your WW damage (and your kick damage) is simply a combo of your physical damage, venom, magic damage, and any other sources. Again, everyone is roughly the same here. Don't try to design around small increments in kick or WW physical damage. Focus on the goals above. The damage will sort itself out and is focused on your venom damage.

Also, crushing blow is overrated. Don't go out of your way to get it. In fact, I play with ZERO crushing blow. If you have some off-the-wall piece of equipment that has it, fine. But NEVER design around trying to get it. The numbers on CB, when you really break it down, don't add up to whatever it may cost you. Crushing blow is critical for PvM. Feel free to have CB equipment for leveling. Just don't think you should use it for PvP, no matter what some critics may claim. These numbers have been run IN DETAIL by several people who spent a great deal of time on it, including myself. CB is not a mod to sacrifice anything for.

NOTE ON ATTACK RATING (see also equipment section below):
You want your WW attack rating in the 5000+ range and your kick attack rating somewhere over 5K as well. This allows you to hit all but high defense characters. Via good whirl-away you can also hit many high defense characters. When you run, the to-hit equation is ignored, so a 5K AR attack behaves like smite. This means those pallys with 30K defense might as well have ZERO when they are running/charging for all the good it does them. This allows a lower AR character to actually hit, especially with whirlwind.

5K AR doesn't always cut it however. Normally, against high defense pallys and the occasional barb, I will wear my fools mod claw. This should get you in the 10K to 11K range (give or take). This is enough to hit non-defense specialists.

Fools claw plus angelics gets you in the 19K to 20K or better attack rating range. Combined with whirl-away, this allows you to hit any melee out there. Note that if you wear angelics you have greatly limited mobility (due to slower teleport cast rate). Usually you should only do this if you can get 1 vs. 1 duels w/o interference or if everyone you are dueling is primarily melee. Your resistance is also going to be low. A lot of people in pubbies will pounce you when you are set to specifically duel someone else with constraining equipment changes.

Don't ever pump dex in order to get AR. I've tried it before. It really is of minimal help and costs you a load of life. You should end up with 115 dex (runic talon requirement) fully equipped, barring minor extra equipment stats like dexterity on rings, claws, etc.

Don't stress about AR. I used to really worry about it. You don't have to. Get it in the 5K range, keep some AR gear for certain match-ups, and forget about it. You won't be able to PvM very much, but then this isn't a PvM character. If you have 5K AR and you feel like you aren't hitting, take a close look at your technique before you go altering things to punch up your attack rating.

NOTE ON CLAW BLOCK
Claw block does not check when you run; no to-hit check, no blocking. This is a fact. All attacks against you are auto-hit if they have proximity. Some people have trouble believing it, many people aren't aware of it. But it's true. Claw block is at full value when you teleport and when you attack and when you have WW active. This is mentioned again in the general strategy section.

NOTE ON MANA
My assassin has anywhere from 775 to 830 mana, depending on my set-up and final character level. This is plenty for 98% of my duels. Most people, however, will not have the mana levels I get.

I recommend using mana pots. This recommendation will annoy some people, people who feel that there is an imaginary set of rules binding all people who do PvP. People will claim that using mana pots is 'BM'. There is no such thing as 'BM'. Be polite. Try to have fun duels. This means for both you and the person dueling you. That's all there is to 'mannered' dueling.

If you play in a league, and the league bans mana pots, then don't use them. I don't advocate breaking any rules or cheating in any way. However, 99% of the dueling in 1.10 occurs in pubs now. And in pubs, almost everyone uses mana pots. Indeed, certain builds like wind druids REQUIRE mana pots. I assume that everyone uses them. It just makes things easier. If you think that madly teleporting WW barb, windy or bone nec isn't dropping mana, think again.

In any event, you need to get your mana in the 600+ range to really have any shot at beating good casters.

NOTE: I do NOT advocate using life pots or rejuvs. Even when people use them against me my personal policy is not to use them. About the only universal rules that people SORT of agree on are with respect to life potting, NKing and guarding. Even these rules aren't universal, as there are plenty of clans that play 'BM' among themselves because they seem to enjoy it. I'm not here to judge anyone. My personal policy is not to life pot or rejuv.

I tend to carry mana pots but I rarely have to use them. My build does NOT require mana pots. But you had better be prepared to shell out for charms if you don't want to use them.

>>>>>>I say again: This build does NOT require mana pots.

NOTE ON MERCS
I never use mercs so I have no advice here. My personal opinion is that people who use mercs in PvP often lack the skill to duel well without them (though not always). They are expensive to resurrect, you eventually can't depend on them (when you run out of cash to res), meaning you have to switch tactics and they are a crutch, promoting sloppy technique. If you want one, then go for it. I won't recommend it for any PvP, however. You have one of the best mercs in the game, your recastable shadow master. Use it.
 

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 2 of 8)

SKILLS

The skill set pretty well establishes itself:

-------------------------------------
Dragon Talon - enough points to get talon to level 17 or 23 with equipment and battle command from CTA

Claw Mastery - 20

Venom - 20

Mind blast - 20

Fade - enough points to get 50% physical damage reduction with equipment and battle command (1 pt. fade = 1% physical damage reduction - Don't forget to cast fade from your CTA/spirit/lidless switch to get 3 extra levels. The DR bonus from fade is not limited to hard points spent. Plus skill items also count to this bonus. So level 40 total fade gives you 40% DR.)

Weapon block - enough to get 60% block with equipment and battle command (don't waste points trying to get higher than 60% block)

Shadow Master - 1

Dragon Flight - 1 (with remainder of points going here after other skills are set)

Wake of Fire - 1

Lightning Sentry - 1

Blade Shield - 1 (Optional. Do everything in your power to get this as a mod on your chaos claw, the claw you will wear most often.)

-------------------------------------

In order to get all these skills, you will have to have a high character level.

Pump mind blast last when leveling, if you aren't power leveling to 90+ in a couple days. I've always leveled over a weekend and so pretty much hit 90 a couple of days after I start, meaning all my skills are largely in place right away. Prepare to get rushed and to leech. You can't equip much of anything until high levels (i.e. when your anni is available, etc.).

I say to drop any extra skill points (once everything else is done) into dragon flight due to its critical importance against fast sorcs. This is discussed below in more detail, but against really good sorcs, you will largely be teleporting to get on their screen and then using DF to get on top of them with minion stack, deliver OW, and hopefully pause them for a brief instant to initiate a quick kick sequence. I advise to NOT drop extra points in shadow master. The master is a one-point wonder. A few extra points don't give it any major life boost and you will end up recasting her all the time anyway. I think it's better to squeeze another 1K or so AR and extra damage out of flight. But do as you like in this regard.

NOTE: You MUST get to as high a character level as possible, preferably to about clvl 94 or so. You want to improve your OW damage, improve your chance to hit, and reduce your chances of being hit. Clvl 94 is the point after which leveling is really a pain and so tends to be my personal limit.

EQUIPMENT

Introduction to equipment section
There is a reason I started this guide with a list of Desired Goals. This allows people to directly break from any item I recommend below. As long as you meet the goals and break points I have listed, then you're set. Personally, I would prefer to not list ANY gear, other than duel specific gear changes; allowing people to create their own combos. As long as you can hit the marks, then great. My focus with this guide is the strategy. I feel that even with (slightly) substandard gear, a good dueler, using the strats and tactics I outline below, can have success.

The equipment I list below is basically what I use. So if you are trying to copy my build point for point, here you go.

Helm: Crown of Ages - Yes, it can be expensive, but if you get a 2 socket with mediocre DR and res, you can get by. You need this helm for the combo of FHR, res, damage reduction, and 2 sockets. You need to upgrade this to as close to perfect as you can afford. You spend a lot of stat points to be able to wear this. Don't let them go to waste. Punch up the res LAST. Get 2 sockets and 15 DR first.

Socketing: For the poor, use a pair of 15 ias jewels with the best res mod you can swing. For the well-off, use a pair of 15 ias/15 res all jewels.

Armor: Enigma - This is the only possible armor for this build. Get the highest defense you can, while still being able to equip it w/o spending ANY strength points just for the enigma itself. Does it REALLY matter if you have a 500 defense difference? No. But if you're a stat fetishist, feel free to indulge yourself.

NOTE: with 20 str base, 20 str from the anni, 20 str from the hellfire and 40 strength (for example) invested to get to the point where you can wear a CoA, you have 100 strength to play with for choosing your enigma armor. Don't pick a heavy armor that slows your movement. These numbers are examples only. Do your OWN calculations!!

Belt: Arachnid mesh - Again, this is the only possible primary belt for this build. You will occasionally switch it for T'gods or an OW belt. (See below.)

Boots: Shadow Dancers (get the best stats you can initially so you can minimize later rebuilds). If you get low stat dancers, you have to let skill and/or attribute points go to waste later when you upgrade them. Try for 2/25 dancers right off the bat.

Rings:
Ring 1 - Raven frost (the dex is built in, you can't take it off). Make sure it's 20 dex.
Ring 2 - Fast cast ring with mana, attack rating, resist all. Stats like str are pointless. You need to be able to take the ring off and switch it for a wisp, angelic, etc. Dex can be OK as a substitute for AR, but just don't build it into your assassin.

Ammy:
Fast cast ammy with 15 to 20 fast cast. Look for assassin skills and resist all as your two primary mods after the FCR. Stats, again, don't help much since you cannot build them in. Mana is good. AR boost is good. Etc.

IF you decide to use a fools claw ONLY, and never to use angelics at all, then you can build your ammy in (i.e. never take it off). In this case, try to find an ammy with a high strength and/or dex boost. Use this ultimately to boost your life via attribute point savings.

Gloves: Trangs gloves

Charms:
9x shadow skill GCs with life
1x assassin hellfire
1x anni
10x life/mana sc

Claws (I keep one of each):
1. Chaos Runic Talon (Get venom and mind blast mods first, then go for dragon flight or bladeshield)
2. Fury Runic Talon (Get venom and mind blast mods first, then go for dragon flight or bladeshield)
3. Jade Talon with 15 ias jewel (You need the 15 ias jewel to get the 4 frame break on ww with the Jade. Try to get 15 ias/15 res-all or 15 ias/30 light res for the jewel)
4. Fools mod rare fast claw. Generally socket with UM or IAS depending on whether you need to get the last WW breakpoint or open wounds.

Note on the fools mod claw: Knockback is REALLY nice to have against melee pallys. Seriously try to get a fools mod claw with a KB auto-mod. I know that is very hard. If you can't get this, then try a NEF in the claw and see what you think. You can always unsocket it if you don't see a benefit. My personal view is that KB is absolutely critical.

NOTE: Do NOT get claws with skills you can't do without, like weapon block. If you have weapon block on your fury and you designed around those WB points, and you change the fury for a fools mod claw that doesn't have equal WB, you will lose a claw block break point. Always go for venom first then mind blast. After that I prefer one claw with as much to dragon flight as possible and one claw with a point or two in blade shield.

So...
Primary skills on claws: venom number 1, mind blast number 2
Secondary skills on claws: blade shield and dragon flight, in whatever order you like. I prefer the blade shield on my chaos, since I almost always wear my chaos.

On Switch:
CTA and spirit (on ladder) or lidless wall.
You must have a CTA. This is so critical I can't emphasize it enough. You need the life AND the mana boost it provides. I say again, you MUST have a CTA.

ALTERNATE EQUIPMENT SET-UP:
Here is a different approach to doing your equipment that works as well as (or better than) the CoA route.

Helm: +3 shadow circlet with 20 fast cast and 2 open sockets (socket with 15 ias/15 res all jewels)
Ammy: 30 res maras.
This allows you to get up to lvl 50 field-castable venom and mind blast
You will have to pump points into fade to make up the DR.
You will likely need to pick up resistance via some 5% res all scs with life (not many though)
You need to make up some FHR via switch-out on 2 GCs plus a SC.
Note you save strength from the CoA. Don't build around the stats on the mara unless you don't plan on ever using angelics. If you think a fool's claw is enough for AR, then use the 5 str and 5 dex on the maras to get more life.

This was my final set-up on my last assassin. I moved away from the CoA/caster ammy at the end. Both versions are very good. I just liked having the extra shadow skills. Also, the helm wasn't as hard to get as it would first seem. This alternate set-up is easier to put together than a nearly perfect CoA + nearly perfect caster ammy.

I don't claim one is better than the other. Make up your OWN mind as to which you prefer, if you prefer either. I list all the needed goals so you can invent your OWN design. Be creative. Just make sure you hit the numbers.

Also in Stash:
2x shadow skill w/FHR
1x fhr sc with mana or attack rating

Angelic ring and ammy
Dwarf star ring
20 absorb Wisp ring (or the best absorb you can swing)
T'Gods belt
Demonlimb
9% or 10% OW belt with big life mod and other good stats (resistance, etc.)

Cold resistance over-stacking gear (see below) for auto-aiming blizzard sorcs (optional)

NOTES ON ARMOR CHOICE
Question: Why do I use enigma and not bramble or fortitude?
Short answer: Because that's the build.
Longer Answer: There is no one you can kill with bramble or fortitude that you can't kill with enigma. But there are MANY people you can kill with enigma and fast cast that you CANNOT kill without it.
Also, fortitude is a poor armor generally for ww-sins. If you want a high physical damage whirlwind, make a barb.

This build is all about mobility. Mobility is critical to beating any casters that are halfway decent. Without good mobility they will always have a huge advantage over you. Mobility also helps greatly against several melee types.

Last, when you run, your claw block drops to zero. Therefore, by moving via teleport, you maintain max block at all times. It's hard to come up with a better reason for using enigma than that.

GENERAL NOTES ON EQUIPMENT
I consider the CoA/Dancer combo to be superior to most 1.08 Valk combos. People are free to disagree.

In any event, my set-up is universal. It can be played on or off-ladder. A Valk build does not allow this.

I am also not recommending any specific pre-1.10 rares. A given (duped) rare on USWest non-ladder, for example, is not available anywhere else, making the guide non-universal if I would recommend it.

I am sure that there are certain insanely good rares and/or crafted items (legit or otherwise) that may beat the gear I am recommending. I say go find that great and hard-to-find stuff and use it. This is why I provide general goals. Feel free to customize as much as you like.

ANYA BUG
The resistance provided by the Anya quest in act 5 will go away if you die in a game and don't leave the game and return. Since leaving and returning after every death is annoying and often means you won't be able to get back in the game, make sure you have max res in hell plus a little stack for dealing with facet lower resist without Anya. I say again, do NOT include the Anya resistance into any of your calculations.

ATTRIBUTE POINTS
You will have just enough strength to wear the CoA. WAIT until the highest possible level to put the last points into strength. Your enigma will keep giving you str as you level up. I waited until I was level 92 on my most recent build before I had the str to wear it. If I rebuild, I would try to leech my way to as high as lvl 94 before I could equip. Just wear a T'Gods in the meantime for a strength boost. This will allow you to equip everything without resorting to strength charms and help you to survive in Baal runs.
You will have 115 dexterity with items. Enough for the runic talons. Be careful to equip all strength items first, i.e. shadow dancers, in order to get the dex boost. Everything else goes to vitality.

My assassin sports anywhere from 3600 life to 4000 life, depending on which equipment I am wearing. My typical life is about 3800 in standard gear, 4K in melee only gear.

Again, don't pump dex for attack rating!!

NOTES ON POISON DAMAGE
Poison (i.e. venom in our case) has several features that make it very desirable for our assassin.

First: the double application bug/feature
When +% skill mods are applied, they act once when venom is cast, and then again when it is applied.

Example
Level 45 venom = 1260 average damage over .4 seconds
When cast with trangs gloves, this becomes: 1260 x 1.25 = 1575 over .4 sec.
When you attack someone, the trangs bonus acts AGAIN on this new total yielding: 1968 over .4 sec.
So the bonus actually acts on itself. Nice for us.

Second: The hidden hell PLR penalty
There is a -100% poison length reduction penalty in hell. I am NOT talking about the -100% to your resistance! That is a different penalty. I assume dueling is happening in hell. All poison sources act on you at their full strength for twice the listed period when playing in hell.

Going back to our example:
1968 venom damage over .4 seconds becomes 3937 over .8 seconds.

That is just a LOT of damage over .8 seconds folks. After the PvP penalty, it's 656 real PvP damage over .8 seconds (basically per application). Combine this with your physical damage, magic damage from chaos, and open wounds, and it's really nice damage. When you kick, you basically have your target continuously poisoned at the rate of 820 pvp poison damage per second (not considering resistance damage reduction).

Further, this poison damage (as well as your OW and magic damage) goes through bone armor, energy shield and cyclone armor directly. Very few people care too much about poison. There aren't many people who use it in mass quantities anymore except poison jav zons and poison nova necs. Most people figure they will pop an antidote or run to town if heavily poisoned. Therefore, it is the most commonly neglected resistance. Your poison acts so fast that many people don't even realize the extent of the poison damage they are taking. They assume it's something else killing them. If they ask, don't tell.

I don't pre-buff poison. Some people do. If you want to keep +3 shadow/+3 venom claws with 2 psn facets each, a +3 shadow helm with 2 facets, +3 shadow ammy, and 2 SOJs, go for it. I think it's a huge pain. Try to get strength on the ammy and helm. I had an ammy with +3 shadow and 29 str last ladder and a helm with 20 str or thereabouts so I could equip bramble for pre-buff while still keeping my str investment intact from the enigma. And after all that effort (and expense!!) to get all that stuff, I'll bet I pre-buffed maybe 3 times over the course of the season. You can kill just fine w/o pre-buffing. Once I go out, I don't like to come back to town except for healing after a duel or to put on AR equipment for melee or a jade for stacked res. If you pre-buff, you also have to carefully watch your durations, as you can't just recast venom out in the field every time you recast BO. You have to wait until you return to town. Personally, I like to cast venom and fade every time I cast battle orders. This way there is no fear of it running out. If you pre-buff, get a stopwatch or a regular watch with a stopwatch feature and hit it every time you pre-buff your venom. If you don't have something to remind you other than that easily forgotten, barely visible, venom aura around you, you will end up doing half of your duels without venom on.

Finally, don't ever use poison damage charms as venom renders them useless.

NOTES ON OPEN WOUNDS
The following information is directly from the Arreat Summit website (link included below):

Open Wounds Duration: 200 frames (that is 8 seconds).

The damage per frame seems to be the following (where Clvl is the attackers level, that is the player's level usually):
Clvl=1-15: (9*Clvl+31)/256
Clvl=16-30: (18*Clvl-104)/256
Clvl=31-45: (27*Clvl-374)/256
Clvl=46-60: (36*Clvl-779)/256
Clvl=61-99: (45*Clvl-1319)/256

If you prefer per second, just multiply by 25:
Clvl=1-15: 25*(9*Clvl+31)/256
Clvl=16-30: 25*(18*Clvl-104)/256
Clvl=31-45: 25*(27*Clvl-374)/256
Clvl=46-60: 25*(36*Clvl-779)/256
Clvl=61-99: 25*(45*Clvl-1319)/256

Some examples:
Clvl 10: 11.8 per sec over 8 seconds for a total of 94.5 damage. Clvl 30: 42.6 per sec over 8 seconds for a total of 340.6 damage. Clvl 50: 99.7 per sec over 8 seconds for a total of 797.7 damage. Clvl 70: 178.8 per sec over 8 seconds for a total of 1430.5 damage. Clvl 90: 266.7 per sec over 8 seconds for a total of 2133.6 damage.
Also, the damage is divided by 4 for a player target. In addition, for a missile versus a player target one should divide the damage by 8 instead.

It is possible to get up to 100% chance for Open Wounds. Anything above 100% is discarded.

Link:
http://classic.battle.net/diablo2exp/items/magic.shtml
 

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 3 of 8)

NOTES ON SPEED
For two runic talons you need:
42 IAS to get 9 frame trapping
46 IAS to get 7/3 kicking speed

For a runic talon on primary hand and jade talon off-hand you need:
63 IAS to get 9 frame trapping
68 IAS to get 7/3 kicking

The only IAS that matters here is that which is on your primary claw and your equipment NOT INCLUDING your off-hand claw. Make sure you equip your primary claw FIRST. Claw equipping order matters! A lot!!

You can see why you need 30 ias in your CoA.
NOTE: Chaos runic plus the 30 IAS in your CoA only gives 65 ias. You keep your trapping but lose your max kick speed. You still have 3 frame follow-up kicks, but your initial kick is 8 frames. This is why I go a runic fury with my jade talon for most pure caster battles (with high elemental damage) where I know I will kick primarily. 95% of the time, 8/3 will still get you a win. But there is that other 5% when your opponent is really good and you will need that frame. In those cases, go either chaos + fury (if you can live w/o the jade talon res boost) or go fury + jade (if you don't need ww at all). If you want to be able to ww against elemental casters, then go chaos/jade and don't worry about the frame slower initial kick.

Play around with claw combos and find what works for you.

NOTE: Weapon switching for casting battle orders will reset your primary. If you are toying with IAS and claw positions, especially after reading the sources I provide below, keep in mind the safest bet is to equip the claw with IAS on the glove side. (Thanks to Ilkori for this advice)

All combos I list reach the 4 frame WW breakpoint. I encourage you to investigate this in more detail if you want to understand the mechanics. I'm not posting the information here.

Some people claim that WW speed is fixed for all claws. This is NOT entirely true. For pure ww-sins, always using chaos and fury only, there is enough ias on the claws to hit the fastest WW breakpoint for whatever claw type you use. However, if you wear a jade talon offhand, which has no inherent ias, you WILL miss the last breakpoint with that claw (you need a 15 ias jewel to make it up). Also, if you use a fool's mod claw for the AR bonus and that claw lacks ias, it may miss the breakpoint depending on what type of claw it is.

Check out this link for far more information:
http://forums.diabloii.net/showthread.php?t=229326

Also check out:
http://e.domaindlx.com/JRichard/D2/aas22/

Finally:
The diabloii.net barbarian forums have several people who have worked out all of the details for ww mechanics for both barbs and assassins.

These sources will give more detail than most people could ever want. The WW info in the second link is somewhat out of date, however, and you should consult other sources.

CHANCE TO CAST (CtC) AND STUN WITH DRAGON TALON
With chaos on your primary hand and the new hellfire charm's 25% CtC, you will set off a literal fireworks display of orb, charged bolt and hellfire when you kick vs. opponents with 10K defense and below (assuming you haven't boosted your own AR). These CtC effects will aid you in stunning your opponents as long as you keep mind blast swirlies on them at all times. Combined with wake of fire or lighting sentry and talon itself, you should be a stunning machine.

GENERAL STRATEGY AND TECHNIQUE GUIDE

This mini-guide section isn't comprehensive. It isn't a class-by-class strategy breakdown. The class-by-class is later in the guide. This is meant to be a GENERAL record of several techniques that work, as well as ideas I've been working on for a long time with my assassin.

These points are somewhat random and are not meant to be complete. Words are no substitute for lots and LOTS of practice.

1. Never run, always teleport
Claw block is your best friend. It blocks almost every attack in the game, including fireball, bonespirit, bone spear, orb, etc. HOWEVER, the to-hit equation is IGNORED when you run or walk and no to-hit means no blocking (but stays at max value when whirlwinding). Some people will claim this is not true. They are wrong. It has been extensively tested. Over and over and over. If you teleport, your block is always at max. Run and it's adios. Only run when you have to. This doesn't mean never run, you sometimes have to run to escape trap lock, for example. Just don't run unless it's absolutely necessary or there is no chance of getting hit.

Thanks to Ilkori for correcting me on this point. Previously I had this as zero block, which wasn't strictly the case.

2. Play to the south
Try to keep your opponent north of you. You have more screen to work with. More visible area is more tactical advantage.

3. Play the diagonals
This ties into #2. Keep your opponent (as much as you can) to the northern diagonals. This further increases your advantage. You will notice good trappers, for example, often trying to get screen advantage for trap laying this way.

Do it right, especially trapping the upper diagonals, and you will be accused of scrolling or auto-aiming your traps quite often.

4. Hotkeys
Hotkeys are EVERYTHING. I am not going overboard. People who have their skills all along the f# buttons are not playing correctly at all. Your hotkeys should be toggled between just as fast as a professional typist hits their keys. In order for this to be the case, your hotkeys must be organized close together and logically. If you do this right, you will be accused of cheating. I can move between skills so fast it seems continuous to the people I duel. People regularly claim I'm cheating, saying that I can't cast mind blast simultaneous to using ww, for example. In reality, it isn't simultaneous, it's just THAT FAST.

This is my set-up. I'm right-handed and toggle the hotkeys with my left-hand.

Primary hotkeys:
S - mind blast
D - wake of fire/lightning sentry
W - teleport
F - dragon flight
Q - shadow master
A - whirlwind


Secondary hotkeys:
R - cloak
Z - battle command
X - battle orders
C - venom
V - fade
B - blade shield
F4 - BoS (so I don't screw up and undo fade, BoS is moved out of the way)


Play with middle finger on the 'S' button, index finger on the 'D' button. The index finger can toggle 'F' for flight, the middle finger can toggle 'W' for tele.

With this set-up I can instantly go from MB to wake to tele to flight or tele to WW with basically zero delay.

All hotkeys are on the right mouse button. Dragon Talon is permanently on the left-click mouse button.

5. Teleport replacing DF when target goes OFF-SCREEN
In 1.09 dragon flight extended for over 2 screens away with name-lock. Now Blizzard, in their wisdom, has taken away this huge advantage. But with teleport from enigma we can get it back. The problem is that now you can overshoot. The key is to quickly toggle tele and back to MB (or wake or WW). You want one tele right on top of your target, when kicking, for example (which also gets you critical minion stack, discussed below).

5.5. DF vs. Tele and vice versa
DF only when your target is within half to three quarters of a screen. Use tele to get close and THEN initiate dragon flight. Flight is messed up with 1.10. It's buggy, misfires and is heavily interruptible. It can't be depended on once your opponent is near the edges of your screen. This is why tele is absolutely critical for duels vs. fast teleporting casters. It sets up your dragon flight.

DF is very good at delivering open wounds to a variety of targets. It is also very good with the previously discussed minion stacking. DF is your close-range super accurate teleport. I actually use DF much more than I did in the past (since I'm getting accustomed to its bugs), but it is not viable without teleport as an on-screen closer.

They will accuse you of auto-aiming your teleport with this one, since your flight really becomes PART of your teleport sequence.

6. Mind blast name-lock to hotkey flash teleport/WW
Get mind blast name-lock, while still pressing the right mouse button, hotkey teleport. An instant after the teleport animation begins, hotkey WW. You will exit on top of your opponent doing whirlwind. This is the most useful single attack you have against running targets or targets too dangerous for kicking or targets who are off your screen. This is very hard to time right. Often you toggle WW too fast and end up canceling your teleport and doing a WW in place.

You have to learn to instantly re-center the cursor as the teleport ends in order to do small, triangular whirls. It is easy to end up whirling long using this technique. Long whirls usually get you killed. This skill takes lots and lots of practice. Go out on the blood moor, get a potion (or whatever is useful) and drop it. Move so the potion is at the edge of your screen. Lock it, MB it, then tele/WW on top of it with tight triangles. Drop a pair of potions and just go back and forth. Do that for 30 minutes every night for a few weeks and you WILL get better.

You can hit targets 2 or more screens away with this tactic.

7. Minion stacking
Minion stacking with your shadow master is a lifesaver. It makes you semi-immune to many ranged attacks. Always teleport with your shadow out. If your shadow dies, get in the habit of ALWAYS recasting (if safe to do so). Make sure you have your shadow out for when you dragon flight ON TOP OF YOUR TARGET. You can get minion stack in both cases (DF and teleport), taking significant hits away from you. If you are chasing a hard hitting opponent like a bone necro and your master dies, don't be afraid to break off the chase to recast.

8. WoF/MB vs. LS/MB
Use wake of fire combined with mind blast to stun-lock your target. Wake + MB absolutely dominated in 1.09 but 1.10 brought with it a .16 second NextDelay nerf (see NextDelay notes earlier in the guide). As a result, it's easier to escape now than in 1.09.

Characters with good FHR, lots of life, and skill can escape trap-MB lock. Slippery targets may require different techniques, such as heavier DF and OW dependence and the previously discussed name-lock tele skills.

Against melee generally use LS + MB for better stunning. Melee will tend to desync out of wake, so the longer range auto-target LS is better. Use wake exclusively against java zons, however, to trigger endless evade for an easy kill.

9. Shadow master mind blast technique and MB swirly duration
This is a key technique. The SM/MB technique will allow you to mind blast opponents 2+ screens away. The SM is not constrained by the same limits as you are with having to get name-lock for MB. My SM constantly mind blasts opponents 2 to 3 screens away. It has been the observation of both myself and others that when you max out MB, she seems to mind blast a LOT. My shadow master mind blasts everything in range all the time, so much so that I can't use her on Baal runs when I'm leveling. She just converts everything. When you tele, you constrain her to not being able to do much of anything but MB and occasionally dragon flight.

Update: I was recently informed by Ilkori at d2.net that some of the code divers and mechanics at the Amazon Basin have confirmed the link between skill point investment and casting frequency with the shadow master AI.

Your master will mind blast FOR YOU much of the time (though not all) while you tele, though she only has to do it occasionally due to the long MB swirlie duration. This allows you to drop traps to trip up and lock up your target and/or get in good position for a strategic dragon flight. It's really incredible how it all comes together.

High level mind blast also impacts the length of time the swirlies remain over the target's head. You want this duration maximized to improve stun chances.

Your MB level increases your shadow master's MB level according to this rule from d2.net:
Shadows' skills are 1/2(your Assassin's level in that skill including +skills) rounded down PLUS 1/3(level of shadow at time of casting including +skills), rounded down. So, if you had a lvl 24 MB and slvl 9 SM, your SM would cast a slvl 15 MB.

Source:
http://strategy.diabloii.net/news.php?id=538

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT meant to free you from MBing. It only reduces the load. I still mind blast a great deal on my own, independent of the shadow's actions.

>>>You will CONSTANTLY be accused of auto-aiming your mind blast.

10. Maintaining stunlock and number of kicks
Once you have a target locked, the most likely way to lose that lock is while kicking (or whirlwinding). Therefore it is key to trap and MB between kick sequences or whirlwinds unless you are in a life-or-death tanking situation. To this end, there is a strong argument for limiting your number of kicks to 3. The easy reason is that it allows you to trap more often. But there is also a mechanical reason that is not widely recognized.

There is a misfire that occurs when you have longer kick sequences. This misfire makes proper and continuous trapping more difficult than it should be when executing kick sequences. The effect from this misfire is two-fold. You cast wake but you are still in your kick sequence and wake never fires. That's fairly obvious. The exact beginning and end of your kick sequence is often a fraction of a second off from what you see on your screen due to slight lag, especially with many traps firing. Further, there is a more subtle effect. The failed cast, or perhaps the cast during the kick action, seems to lead to a slight, barely noticeable, pause from when the kicks end to when you can actually lay down a trap.

Many pure kickers have a problem with not having 5 kicks and max talon. It is, however, a mistake to do so. And I don't say this just because you need the skill points elsewhere, which you do. You are NOT as effective if you have long kick sequences.

4 kicks is also reasonable. I prefer 3 kicks, however. Go no more than 4 kicks in any event.

11. Spiral in to your target
Circle your target and spiral in to them. This allows your shadow master to MB and confuses your target. Trap while closing in. This is obviously more applicable to targets standing still, spamming an attack, etc. Fast teleporters often won't allow any type of spiral attack to develop.

12. Always have traps out
Self-explanatory. More traps equal a higher probability of a mind blasted target hitting one and getting tripped up. This means you drop traps as you teleport, even if you don't have your opponent near you.

13. Keep your eyes open
When your target hits a trap, and gets tripped up, you have only a second or two to get to them and reinforce the stun-lock with more traps, an extra MB and attack. If they get caught and you don't see it, you missed an opportunity (if nothing else) to deliver OW. More likely you missed a chance to end the duel and kill them.

14. Know when NOT to chase
Don't chase defensive bone necs or orb sorcs. They WILL wear you down. If you are SURE you can get them, then give chase. Otherwise, make them come to you. These runners are more likely faster than you and hit harder than you if it's a direct hit. Be VERY careful about chasing defensive blizzard sorcs who drop blizzard in your path and always run away as they will certainly kill you if you make a mistake.

15. Know when NOT to tank. Know when to break off the attack
If I die to a druid and, to a lesser extent to a bone nec, it's often because I made a bad decision to tank. Always be ready to run and regroup. A druid or nec with good FHR can sometimes out-tank you if their life is high enough. Your best tanking occurs when you have the 86 FHR mark achieved.

16. Hit and run open wounds
Know when to play defensively. This doesn't mean you run away after hitting and inflicting open wounds, it means you hit and stay close, not getting hit yourself. Basically, you chase but don't engage, looking for an opportunity to inflict open wounds via DF or a quick kick sequence. Make them THINK you are after them. MB and drop traps, but only close for kicks and/or get in a good DF when necessary or when a good opportunity presents itself, i.e. when OW has run its course. Obviously this is for VERY VERY hard duels and especially for those cases where you are very low on life.

17. Use your minimap. Anticipate their minimap.
If they see you on their minimap, they know where you are and where you are coming from. If you are going to come at them, exit their minimap and come at them from a different angle. This minimizes spammed bone spirit and the like. Also, watch out for necro IBS.

Make SURE your minimap is set to FULL SCREEN and is always up! Do not use the smaller map up at the corner of your screen. You want your minimap marker to lie under your character. Otherwise you can't 'see' both displays simultaneously. You want to be able to go from display to mini and back just by changing eye focus, not by looking at a different part of your screen.

18. Play fast and aggressive
It's better to be all over your target and make them play defensively than to be defensive yourself and allow them to get the initiative. FAST FAST FAST!! You need to be all over them from start to finish except in special cases like hyper-defensive teeth spamming necros, high defense hammer pallys, hyper-defensive orb sorcs, etc. For these guys, you need to allow them to come to you and to make a mistake.

19. Watch out for the shadow master DF cast 'bug'
When you cast SM, the skill is on a timer. You can't cast it again for several seconds. This timer also starts on dragon flight when you cast SM, meaning you can't flight EITHER until your SM timer runs out. This has screwed me a few times in the past when I really needed to DF and the skill was red because the SM timer hadn't expired. This is an easy problem to have happen as you often recast your SM on the run to keep minion stack up so be aware of it.

20. Let the SM finish off 1 life opponents if you are also low on life
You will often be in dueling situations where your opponent has just 1 life, usually due to you open wounds. If you are also low in life and they hit hard, then make sure your shadow master is out and just tele in their vicinity. The master will mind blast them or DF them for the kill, saving you from having to get dangerously close. I've actually used this a lot.

21. Public dueling common sense (if you do pub dueling)
Get clear of the town entrance. You need room to move and maneuver. Pick your fights, don't hostile everyone in the room. You don't do well when people team you. Try to keep your duels 1 vs. 1 unless you know you can handle multiples.
 

maxicek

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Dec 24, 2019
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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 4 of 8)

22. Lag hurts you more than most
Out of all the character types I've played, lag seems to hurt fast-cast ww-sins and kick-sins more than most others. You require a bit more time to kill and you need a lot of accuracy in movement. When in ww, you are vulnerable to lag, esp. if you come out and just stand there for a second or if you ww 'in-place' due to getting charged simultaneous to initiating ww.

23. You aren't very good on a team (most of the time)
It's just a fact. You shine in 1 vs. 1 dueling. You simply take too long to kill to be a good team dueler. You can help your team by stunning, but you are not at your best. Diablo 2 team dueling is all about massive damage really fast. It's in the 1 vs. 1 stuff that good movement and the like come into play. If you are on a team, focus on the opposing casters first along with stun-lock support.

24. Terrain
Use the terrain. Terrain is very important and rarely exploited. When dueling barbs, stay in the bogs. This means they have to get around obstacles. They can't easily desync their WW by whirling long. It also protects you from straight-line charge attacks by pallies if you are pounding them with mind blast. Be careful though. If a smiter gets you against a bog and starts smiting, you are dead. Chargers can also pin you against terrain if they get a good knockback sequence. Likewise, it can really mess up your whirlwinds and trip you up.

25. Personalized Techniques and Individuals vs. "Classes"
Don't confuse "individuals" for classes. What I mean is this; you may do very well generally against trappers, for example, but every now and then, a trapper comes along who just doesn't fit the existing molds. You will probably lose to this person initially, even over several duels or sessions. I find, when someone has an original playing style and they are good, I have to duel them on multiple occasions in order to get a feel for the best techniques to use against them. In time, you don't lose so much, and the edge goes to you and your build. What works against 95% of the trappers out there, including the good ones, may not work against this guy. Don't think that suddenly you aren't so good against trappers (or whoever it may be). Use this new, difficult duel to generally get better and improve your technique. I would rather duel someone who tends to beat me than someone I always beat. If I'm getting slapped around, it means I have to be creative and figure out new tactics.

>>>Don't just fall in the trap of messing with your equipment just because you lose a few times. Try to win with better playing style, not changing around items.

26. Occasionally play WITHOUT using teleport
Duel some without using teleport at all. This is good practice for those times when you run out of mana. It also forces you to learn to trap 1.09 style, which is good technique. There are certain duels against fast, defensive casters where you want to do the stationary trap field technique or the walking trap field technique that was common in 1.09. This also helps you get a feel for the limits of dragon flight.

27. Learn to walk your traps
This is classic 1.09 trapper dueling style (see #3). Good 1.09 trappers learned to herd their opponents by always trapping toward them, preferably at the corners of their screen. Don't get in the 1.10 habit of hiding in your trap field and letting people get the initiative on you. Defensive trappers are the kind of trapper that loses to me because I herd THEM. Offensive trappers are all over you, either by walking their traps toward you or teleporting at you and trapping like mad. Walking your traps allows you to play defensively, but with an offensive element. This is critical when you are dueling other trappers. Obviously, this isn't applicable to anyone teleporting like a crazy person, in which case you simply have a stationary trap field (assuming defensive play on your part). Or you try to jump them when they hit a trap-free area before they can get their full trap field down.

28. CRITICAL TECHNIQUE: Get a 200 FCR Sorc to tele around you to practice your MB name-lock skills
This is very important. You must develop your name-lock-obtaining skill for MB. You often only get one or two chances to get it in some duels.

Get someone with a 200 fast cast rate sorc and:
1. Have them tele around you with you standing still. Try to get name-lock with MB.
2. Chase them, trying to get name-lock. Have them play defensively, spamming some low damage fireballs occasionally or something. They shouldn't just run away in straight line all the time, as this isn't a true representation of what would happen in a duel.
3. Try doing this with trapping as well, especially with you standing still and using a stationary trap field. I.e., try to catch them with traps.
4. Try this with DF only. DF is also a name-lock skill. Have the fast sorc play defensively and try to get in repeated DF hits by teleporting onto their screen and locking them.
5. Don't use your SM for ANY of this.

29. Fake them out with unsummon
I've only messed with this technique but it has worked (sort of) the few times I've used it. After a while, the people you duel will expect you to follow up mind blast name-lock with a whirlwind and will take defensive measures whenever they are locked. You can also get name-lock with your unsummon skill. This way, they don't head for the hills the second you pound them with MB, either taking them out of range of your teleport or making accurate WW harder. Unsummon is sort of a 'stealth' hotkey tele/WW flash. Again, I haven't used this much. It felt awkward and unfamiliar the first few times I tried it. But that's not to say it wouldn't improve with time or that other people wouldn't be able to make good use of it. So I'll post it here and people can use or not use it as they choose.

30. NextDelay and why it matters
What is NextDelay? I'll use this definition provided by the diabloii.net FAQ:

NextDelay is a property that activates a hidden "hit timer" that limits how often any attack from that group can damage a single target. This works similarly to the infamous spell timer, which limits how often any spell in that group can be cast. The difference is that the hit timer doesn't prevent you from attacking; it just sets everyone's chance-to-hit that monster (with a hit timer attack) at zero until the timer runs out.

So, the moment a certain skill from the list damages a monster, it prevents every other skill on the list from hitting the said monster for the original skill's NextDelay duration (whether from you or any other character).

Source:
http://strategy.diabloii.net/news.php?id=538

The wake of fire NextDelay is 4 frames (or 0.16 seconds).

This means that unlike WoF in 1.09 and before, wake from 1.10 and up no longer gives you the non-stop continuous stun that it once did. There are breaks in the damage. With these breaks wake isn't as effective a stun machine as it once was. Just because you have overlapping waves of fire does NOT mean they are hitting. This is one of the reasons that against very high FHR opponents, you may want to use lightning sentry.

GENERAL MATCH-UP NOTES

When you duel, kicks are better vs. some, ww is better vs. others. Obviously, I made a hybrid so there must be a reason.

Kicks are more accurate than WW and have better hit recovery inducing potential in that they are, on average, more frequent. In this I mean that you have a consistent, basically non-stop, sequence of attacks with talon. WW has two swings every 4 frames to talon's one kick per 3 frames (on follow-up) but this speed advantage is illusory as perfect non-stop WW checks don't exist except for very short periods of perfect triangular whirls. Kicks tend to work better against most casters than WW. They allow you to maintain constant pressure on the caster, with no fear of overshoot or any other ww-related problem. It is also easier to re-trap with kicks. WW, however, is almost always superior vs. melee, allows more effective hit and run vs. certain duelers, including some casters like hammer pallies, and gives you defense (via whirl-away) in many situations. It also provides an uninterruptible escape vs. stun situations.

I usually go (rough numbers)
Sorcs - pure kick with high OW (fury, jade)
Wind druids - 80% kick, 20% ww (chaos, fury)
All pallys - 95% ww (chaos + fury or jade dep. on pally type)
Necros - 80% kick with high OW, 20% ww (chaos + fury)
Trappers - 80% ww, 20% kick (chaos + fury)
All other melee besides pallys - pure ww (chaos + fury)
Bow zons - 60% kick, 40% ww (chaos, fury)
CS zons - pure kick (chaos, jade). You may not need the jade at all if you are good as they will rarely hit you.

All these numbers are ballpark and vary depending on the match-up. You may very well alter them. Each person has their own style.

With kicks, I never overshoot. I never get annoying ww lock. I never have to worry about sloppiness. Anyone who is a pure ww who claims they have perfect triangle ww's whenever they want with solid accuracy is lying. Over the course of multiple ww's you will make the occasional sloppy ww (or more than occasional due to slight lag, weird terrain, too much caffeine, etc.). And that occasional bad ww is often the spot where you either die, lose the most life, or your opponent escapes. I have yet to see anyone with perfectly accurate ww's every single time on demand.

WW is a great killing skill. But assassins have a shorter range weapon than barbs. As a result, our triangle ww's have to be TIGHTER. Against really fast teleporters, you're going to come up short.

Over and over I tele onto a good dueler with ww only to have them be gone simply because their cast rate is just a fraction faster. Over and over, good fhr chars can escape from WoF/MB lock because their fhr allows them a window in the wake NextDelay.

The faster the teleporter, and the better their fhr, the more I tend to kick. Unless it's a pally, in which case ww-away either just by ww'ing literally away from them (vs. smiters) or via MB name-lock hotkey flash (vs. hammers, FoH, etc.) is the best route.

Further, no matter how good you are at ww, you WILL overshoot over the course of a duel. And by overshoot, I mean be in ww for just an extra second or two. That's not a lot, but it IS long enough for any blizz sorc (for example) worth anything, to one-hit kill you if they see it happen.

Kicks simply tend to be superior against fast teleporters.

NOTE: WW sins are NOT ww barbs. We can't use the technique of desyncing across the screen with our ww. We move too slowly and our range is too short. What works for barbs does not work for assassins, unless your opponent really has no skill or just lags a lot. You CAN desync, but you just can't depend on it. I've killed people using it, especially bowazons and trappers. I don't recommend it. When I have desynced it was usually because of a bad ww, where I locked my opponent and didn't have control of the ww, following them all over the blood moor.
 

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 5 of 8)

CLASS VARIANT STRATEGY BREAKDOWN

BONE NECROS
Every bone nec isn't created equal. There are sub-categories within this class-variant. These include:
--Standard bone necs who are well-built and have good fhr and fcr
--Bone necs that use minions for minion stack (but who are still primarily bone based)
--Defensive bone necs that spam teeth as they always fall back and away from you.

Any one necro can exhibit all these behaviors at one time or another, depending on circumstances. Let's consider them one at a time.

STANDARD BONE NEC TECHNIQUE
I assume the necro opponent is good. Any good nec is a tough duel, even with the marrow walk synergy bug now fixed. I assume they have the best possible FHR and max fast-cast. Good necros are one of the most enjoyable duels in my opinion. It is often very hard, yet very possible to do well. The necro will hit for massive damage when they connect, whether it's via spear or bone spirit. Here is a list of tactics for dealing with standard bone necs.

Procedures:

- Use BoS, not fade. This is self-explanatory. Don't use fade unless the nec has an army. BoS allows you better movement to close small distances, overcomes the problem of clay golem slow, and helps overcome getting decreped. Always use fade if the nec has a hard hitting merc or lots of minions.

- Always tele, never run. Remember, your block is zero when you run. Never run unless it's for short distances or you are out of mana and have no choice.

- Your OW will go through their bone armor, as will your venom.

- Don't tank unless you have the 86 FHR break. Most people assume that all you need is high enough life. In your case that's not true. Your life should be between 3K and 4K. You can't tank a good nec without good FHR. This FHR allows you to maintain a rapid attack, keeping the nec in recovery animation himself. You attack faster, but this fast attack won't get you anywhere if you are in recovery. Once the nec gets a sequence of spears going, you will probably die if you are trying to tank (assuming the nec is good and well-built).

- Go for the wake/mb lock to the extent possible. Some necs are very slippery and don't seem to remain locked up well. Your OW will be key in these cases. Don't be afraid to DF even when lots of bone spirits are in the air. You will pass them up, get a hit, and then tele away.

- When the nec escapes wake/MB lock, it's often because they ran out of it, desyncing from the wake. Use DF to get in a parting shot and deliver/reset OW. Usually their goal is to escape and regroup. This is a good time to try tanking if possible. Don't trap, allow your master to MB if she's out.

- Don't approach the necro in a straight line!! They will see you on their minimap and spam bone spirit. By the time you close, you'll have 20 of them flying around. Get off their minimap and approach from a different direction than they last saw you. Get to them fast but take a parabolic path. If the necro is spamming spirits or spears, spiral in. The nec will be slightly behind you with their shots 90% or more of the time as you move in, IF you are fast and accurate.

- Beware of IBS. This is a quick way to lose massive life. If you go off the necro minimap, move from your location. Any good necro will be spamming BS in your direction with the hope of creating IBS.

- ALWAYS have your shadow master out. She will mind blast for you, confuse the necro and give you critical minion stacking. If your master dies, get her back up IMMEDIATELY! Don't do anything without your master deployed. Get in this habit early.

- Be hyper aggressive at all times. Get all over the necro from the first second of the duel and never let up.

BONE NECS WITH MINIONS
Medium to hard duel.

This type of nec hides behind a small army and still has substantial bone skill damage, along with all the other issues and difficulties associated with necros. BUT, they are actually easier to kill. Why? They are a bigger target! This is where you will mind blast almost as much as your master. The necro is easily hit with mind blast, just aim for that big pack that's jumping around your screen. With practice you'll rarely if ever miss.

Procedures:

- MB the pack yourself if possible. The shadow will do it, but so can you.

- Get those traps out! You'll lock up the necro AND all his minions.

- The key is to find the necro amid his minions. This can be hard. But you can do it. You have to CLICK mind blast once the necro and his minions are locked up. Don't spam it by holding down the mouse button. You click in order to discern different targets. Once you find the nec, initiate DF without unclicking the mouse button. Commence kicking but do NOT forget to keep deploying traps and mind blasting. You have to keep the minions (and the nec) locked up.

- If the necro has a merc, kill it! These guys can hit harder than the nec up close. But they usually die with a single kick sequence. If you are kicking the necro and you see his merc, use one talon click and take him out.

- Use fade, not BoS. You need the DR/res as the necro's minions can actually hit hard as well as giving him heavy minion stacking.

- Don't be afraid to break off the attack! If you are kicking the necro and he's locked up but his minions and/or merc is free, they will rapidly kill you. Be ready to break off. If they are on top of you, stun won't save you. Get clear and try again. Usually after you lock them once, the necro will become defensive. Defensive bone necs with minion packs begin to fall under the next category.

- I will often actually play 1.09 trapper style, setting a trap field semi-circle and waiting for the nec and his minions to come to me. Usually they want to tele on top of you much like a windy. Use this to your advantage. Get a trap or two under you as well. The instant they tele to your position tele one click away and MB them. It's often an easy lock this way.

- Use cloak of shadow to blind the minions. This can be a BIG deal, especially if they have a hard-hitting merc mixed in with their minions.

DEFENSIVE BONE NECS
This is the often the hardest duel besides ww barbs and some smite/FoH combo pallys. The most annoying tactic a nec can take is always staying off-screen and spamming teeth/spirit as they go. A 3K+ life bone nec with good FC and FHR using this tactic can easily beat you if you aren't careful and pretty good yourself. I consider a GOOD bone nec playing semi-defensively to be the hardest duel in the game. Try to get a 50-50 win ratio vs. the best bone necs out there. You won't "dominate" them, but with skill, they won't dominate you either.

Your build takes a lot more skill to get wins with than a bone nec. It is also much more subject to lag and hiccups in the game. Bone necs have it easy. If they have the best possible equipment, they simply need to learn a few solid defensive techniques against you. You, however, have to CATCH them and not die. You have to kill them through all their defenses and countless spammed 800 PvP damage bone spirits. You have an uphill battle because they won't easily allow you to even get on their screen. Play carefully and assume it's your hardest duel.

I occasionally jump up to the 102 fcr breakpoint in order to stay on their screen.

Procedures:

- Don't play their game!!! It's no fun (and deadly) to chase someone who is both faster and harder hitting than you all over the blood moor while they chip away at your life. Find an area that offers good terrain and stay in it. Drop a solid trap field and make them stay in your general area if they want to duel you.

- Your SM will mind blast from over 2 screens away. You will need this in spades. Always have the master out.

- You will usually have one chance at most to capitalize on a mistake by the nec. If he momentarily gets tripped up in a trap, you have to know it and you have close immediately! Don't miss an opportunity.

- Don't be afraid to take damage. Your going to get hit, a lot, by teeth. Ignore this as much as possible unless your life is getting critical. You'll simply have to take hits to get in hits yourself.

- Use chaos on your main hand. You want to take them down fast if you lock them up. The magic damage helps and the CtC effects help to stun. Trying to win with repeated OW applications against a good nec is difficult. If you want to go the WO route, then equip your fury as primary. You can then go either chaos off-hand or eth bartucs off-hand (but no ww at then in case you need it.). I recommend always having ww if you need it for this duel. Even though I kick most of the time, I have found ww useful in numerous instances.

- Watch out that they constantly spam teeth and then suddenly switch to very high damage bone spirit. They can easily take you by surprise with this quick change over in skills.

POISON NOVA NECS
Generally easy duel.

Procedures:

- Careful about lower resist. Your fade will reduce its duration to a few seconds, but avoid the necro during those few seconds if possible.

- Wear a jade and possibly a snake cord (I have yet to wear a snake cord even though I have one in my stash).

- Use chaos on your primary for chance-to-cast stun bonus and good magic damage boost. You want to kill them fast (chaos magic damage transferred to you kick will assist this). They are likely to get off one nova while you are kicking them, meaning you had better do it right the first time.

- Lock them up with wake/MB and keep your distance. Don't DF or tele in until you are SURE they are locked down (i.e. lock them down HARD, with all traps firing before you DF on top of them).

- Don't be afraid to play aggressive when you are down to only 1 life.

- Use talon to kill. If you overshoot a WW or get sloppy, they'll escape and nova you on their way out.

If you have trouble with poison necs, it's probably from being overly scared of the nova.

FIREBALL SORCS
Most of the time, this is an easy duel.

Procedures:

- Put on jade off-hand, fury primary hand (i.e. skip whirlwind).

- Don't bother trapping unless they are good.

- Use teleport to get on their screen and dragon flight to deliver OW (if they are a runner) and to get in a quick kick sequence for the kill. Your res, 60% block, good FHR, minion stack, and rapid recovery inducing attack means you can often just tank them dead in a couple seconds if you can land the DF.

- Be careful. The 200 fast cast rate sorcs WILL tank your kicks IF they can get those fireballs going. They can lock you down if they can get a stream of fireballs hitting you. Be prepared to break off and regroup.

- If the sorc is good, don't even use talon. Just dragon flight with OW until they are at 1 life. Then either kill with DF or let your shadow master kill her as you tele around.

- If you try to trap them, use wake of fire. 99% of these sorcs have absolute crap FHR and are easily locked up. The real trick is catching them though.

- Remember, if you land DF, they are paused for a second. This gives you time to initiate dragon talon. I kill 70% of FB sorcs this way, 25% with the DF/OW technique and the remaining 5% with actual trapping

- The FB sorc has to stop to shoot their fireballs. This is what allows you to stay with them, even when they have 200 fast cast. The good ones will even try to aim a little as you chase them around.

- Watch your mana. If you aren't using mana pots, lure them close and then explode after them.

- Always have your shadow master up for minion stack. I will go many duels vs. FB sorcs and never take a point of damage due to minion stack and claw block.

- Tele off her corpse immediately when you kill her as she is likely to cast meteor on dying.

- You shouldn't need a dwarf or any absorb at all to win this duel.

FROZEN ORB SORCS
Easy to moderate hard duel. Orb sorcs are runners. They want to keep you off their screen and chip away at you since you are hoping for them to get close to lock them up or DF them.

Procedures:

- You will likely never catch them in a trap/mb combo. Use the same DF/OW technique that I outlined for the FB sorc.

- If you have a few jades with jewels, use the one with a 30 cold res/15 ias jewel.

- Play defensively yourself. DON'T CHASE THEM! A good defensive orb sorc is actually sometimes hard to kill. Their large AoE attack means they can mindlessly drop orbs without any need to aim, concentrating on keeping distance between you and her. If you chase after them, you are giving them what they want. Make them come after you.

- They are FASTER than you. Try setting up trap fields and playing 1.09 style, using tele only when it is tactically advantageous.

LIGHTNING SORCS
Easy duel 98% of the time.

Procedures:

- Same as fireball sorcs on tactics. Careful though as the light can hurt a lot if they have good lower res. Light takes time to cast making your job easy.

- Make sure to circle them as you approach. If you come in on a straight line, she'll have her best shot to kill you.

LIGHT SORC WITH CONVICTION MERC
Medium duel.

Procedures:

- Don't DF them until the merc is dead.

- Use traps and MB to lock them up.

- Do a tele-ww pass to kill the merc. Then use standard techniques against the sorc.

LIGHT SORC WITH CONVICTION MERC AND AUTO-AIM
Medium to Hard duel.

Procedures:

- Same strategy as for the non-aa variety except play more defensively.

- Always have your master out to take a hit off of you.

- Don't stand in one spot spamming MB and traps. They will shoot you right through FHR animation due to the auto-aim (technically, in-between the FHR animations, but it's always shooting). You need to stay circling them, and only DF on top when the merc is dead and you see them tripped for a sec from the traps/MB swirlies that you are constantly laying down.

- Do not DF the sorc for any reason until you've killed the merc. Otherwise she'll one-hit-kill you.

BLIZZARD SORCS
Can occasionally be quite hard, usually easy to medium though. A good blizzard sorc can one-hit-kill you with a lucky shot. This adds a degree of randomness to your duels. Accidentally tele into a blizzard and the duel is over. Blizzard damage is mentioned in a note below.

Procedures:

- Tele carefully and try to trap them.

- Make sure you have all five wakes firing and that she hasn't/can't cast blizzard on top of herself before you tele on top of her.

- Tele off immediately when you kill her since she is likely to cast blizzard on dying.

- Beyond this, DF her but don't talon. You can try WW, but if she survives it she will often blizzard you before you can tele away. If you try to talon she WILL get a blizzard off if she has paid any attention to FHR.

Most (not all) blizzard sorcs have very little pvp skill and are relatively easy (sorry all you blizz sorcs, it's the truth). They think they are good because they have this overpowered skill that works well against the unwashed public dueling masses who die in droves thanks to an equal lack of dueling skill. BUT there are a few good ones floating around with both equipment and experience and they are a very hard duel. The better duelers will always try to stay off your screen, counting on you blundering into one of their (usually) semi-randomly placed blizzards.

NOTE ON BLIZZARD DAMAGE (this example attributed to AndyChrono)
Blizzard inflicts a very large amount of damage on the first hit, absorb notwithstanding. Here's how it works.

Absorb heals you first and then reduces damage. Since the first hit usually occurs when you are already at full life the healing part does nothing and it only reduces. Due to Blizzard's massive damage the effect is magnified.

Say 15k Blizzard and -100 resist against 2x Ravens; about 5000 PvP damage.

First Hit: Heal 40% of 5k which is 2k. But since opponent is at full life this is ignored. Then reduce damage by 40% of 5k (5000-2000) which turns out to be 3k. Thus the first hit does 3000 damage.

Second Hit: Heal 40% of 5k (2000). Then reduce damage by another 40% of 5k (2000). Thus the second hit does 5000-2000-2000 = 1000 damage.


So given this, plan your strategy accordingly. A lot of people will be one-hit-killed by that first blizzard.

BLIZZARD SORC WITH AUTO-AIM
Usually they are unskilled slime. Their blizzard will one-hit kill you from 2+ screens away.

Procedures:

- Stack cold res!! Use a 6 socket phase with an UM and 5x 30 to 40 cold res jewels (get a couple with ias) and a 4 thul shield. That's about 300 cold res right there. Add in 50 to 60 on your CoA, 67 or so from fade, 16 or so from an anni, maybe 20 on an ammy, and you are sitting in the neighborhood of 450 to 460 cold res. If you need a bit more, keep some 10% or 11% scs in your stash and trade out some life/mana scs. If you can get 500 total cold res you're golden.

- Always keep your master up to draw off an aimed blizzard.

I normally don't recommend guarding corpses, but if you are on a blizzard sorc's aim list, this is probably a good time to start. Careful though, even naked, her auto-aiming blizzard can kill you.

Alternate plan: Don't duel them!

ENERGY SHIELD SORCS
Usually this is not a bad duel because most people don't have the know-how/equipment to defend against you.

Procedures:

- Get your fury on your primary and the jade on secondary.

- Skip ww.

- Open wounds and poison will be your primary killers as they go right through the sorc's energy shield. Use DF liberally.

NOTE: It is possible to put together ES builds that become immune to you. You can't kill them. You can get them to 1 life and that's it. You're stuck. I've seen just one of these in all my duels so don't lose any sleep over it. If they do that, just over-absorb and stack res against any attack they have and it's a draw. If they completely nullify you, you have every right to do the same.
 

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 6 of 8)

WIND DRUIDS
Easy to medium hard duel, usually pretty easy.

Procedures:

- I always go about 80% kick vs. windies. The faster attack speed of the kicks, combined with MB/WoF, stun locks up all but the best of them.

- Lock them down with wake (letting the SM MB from 2 to 3 screens away).

- MB-tele-WW hotkey flash for a quick triangular WW. This takes out the oak and most mercs. Either way, kill that oak if you can.

- DF on them to re-establish SM minion stack.

- Initiate sequence of Kick(7/3/3) - kick(7/3/3) - trap (use WoF only) - trap - MB /repeat

If the Druid actually has good FHR, they may be able to tank you, which means you execute this once, and then tele out. Good FHR on the druid means more hit and run for you. I find kicks to be more conducive to this because of their accuracy and the fact that you never "overshoot" or get a messed up WW name-lock that ends with you whirling halfway across the blood moor.

The best druids will recognize your technique after a while and start to behave like hammer pallies, teleporting around and dropping tornadoes in your general direction. They don't let you get stun-lock and if you chase them, they will kill you by leaving tornadoes in your path. This is a much harder duel if they are also equipped well. Play 1.09 trapper style in this case. Find a good spot, lay out a trap field, and let them come to you. Often they will get sick of the duel and try to pounce you. Make sure you have the stun swirlies on them and initiate kicks. You may have to use limited lightning sentry as a trap if they are very fast and hard to pin down.

Note: If the druid teleports right on top of you and you are sitting in a trap field, you should never lose. Mind blast once on top of yourself and initiate kicks. And the ironic thing is that 90% of druids do just this. And the even more ironic thing is that after dying 10 times in a row, they will keep doing it. It's like you have a 'Commit Suicide Here' sign on you when you sit still for a moment. I think partly that the reason for this is the short range on tornado. Most druids only know one way to kill you and they can't break from that spamming mindset.

Don't get me wrong. The very best druids can keep you to 50% if they are having a good night. But there are VERY few druids this good. You should go 70% to 80% or better vs. normal good druids.

TRAPPERS
Easy to hard. Usually easy/moderate.

General trapper procedures:

- Always have max light res. Obviously. Also make sure your fire res is maxed. Some of the better ones will recognize the facility of using fire-blast. Don't let them catch you off-guard with it.

- You only need max res with lightning sentry (either 75 or 85 with T'gods). For those of you who DON'T know, facets don't work with sentry. Facets DO work with fireblast, however. But who cares? There's maybe 1 fireblast sin per realm that uses fire facets and they can be killed by simple whirls.

- Try to get max light res without using Jade. Since they don't lower your res with facets, you don't need to stack. This lets you wear the fury, which is superior to the jade for killing high life trappers.

- You have to choose between 65 FC or absorb. You can go either a T'Gods or a wisp if you use absorb. Ignore all complaining (unless they are being cool and ask nicely, then do whatever seems appropriate). There is nothing wrong with one element of absorb on a ww-sin, PERIOD. If you are off-ladder and have a valk, try to get 65 FC with a valk and t'gods. Wear a Jade and not a fury in that case as your res will be too low w/o the CoA.

Most tournaments allow one element of absorb. Practice w/o any absorb and trappers start to seem easy with it. Do the same vs. all other classes where absorb would be appropriate. Try to win w/o it regularly. Don't let anyone tell you that one absorb item is 'BM' or unfair or whatever. It's not. They just want you to be as easy a kill as possible.

Trapper Type 1: claw-claw
subtype A: No fast cast or low fast cast, focus on massive damage only. Lots of life.
Medium to hard to duel, depending on trapper skill.

Procedures:

- Take advantage of their low cast rate. This is a significant tactical advantage.

- Use wake of fire, and try to position them on the corner of your screen.

- Always have the master out to draw off her traps.

- If you can lock the trapper down with wake and MB, stand there and pump it for a few seconds to let their sentries die out. This is critical!! Let their sentries die out! Make sure you have your master out, then DF or tele on top of them. Do triangular whirls or kick as you like.

- If they are not able to get traps out (or only have a couple traps up), I prefer to kick. Smaller chance of overshooting them with a whirl and giving them a chance to lay traps or run.

subtype B: 65 FC and 2 trap claws. Lots of life.
Medium to hard to duel, depending on trapper skill.

Procedures:

- This is fought much the same way as the subtype A duel except your advantage lies more with better FHR than better cast rate.

- Make sure you have 86 FHR. They probably will NOT have this recovery. This means you will stun better. But not a lot better since their traps will hurt so much.

- Be REALLY careful not to get locked in a trap/MB pump combo.

Trapper Type 2: 102 FC, hoto/shield
Medium to hard to duel, depending on trapper skill. They outclass you on MB cast rate, they tele faster than you and they possibly use BoS instead of fade, meaning they run faster as well. They will also likely have the 86 FHR break. Their trap damage is lower than the first two variants.

Procedures:

- Play the corners. Never get on their screen.

- You need them to run away from their trap field. Trap the corners and get them to move.

- Cast SM at your screen corners simultaneous to casting traps. This draws off their traps and often gets them to move to a new spot to set up a new trap field.

- Use drive-by whirls. Don't do the triangular whirls unless you catch them w/o traps up and/or you're good at it.

- You want to wear them down and get them to make a mistake.

- Be careful of wake/MB lock. They will often desync out of it. Before you know what happened, you have 5 sentries ripping you apart, you're being pounded by 102 FC mind blast, and the tide has turned. You must be aware of any mistake they make.

- Often times kicking is very effective if traps aren't up.

- Use wake as your main trap. Wake will stun them very well with only a single trap firing. The same cannot be said of sentry.

- If you see they are in wake stun-lock, reinforce it instantly. Pound them with traps and MB.

- If you see their life going down with MB in any significant way at all, kill them with it. Just keep them trapped and don't stop with MB until they are dead. If you have name-lock, you can lay traps on them and MB them from off your screen.

- If they desync out of the traps, tele/WW flash them for a drive-by while they are running.

- You must have 86 FHR on this duel. People with less experience will claim that you don't need FHR since you can WW out of their traps. That is wrong. If they see your FHR is poor (which is easy to see), they will stay all over you. You will end up having to whirl across the entire blood moor and still not get clear. I know, because that's what I do when I trap.

- You have to tele clear the first chance you get if things are going bad. Always know when to break off.

First Special Note: 'Evade' Trappers
Some trappers, among the better ones, are very good at being hard to catch. They teleport very fast, keep their master up at all times for minion stack, and always stay in range of their trap field while staying OFF YOUR SCREEN. They have good FHR and know when to run out of traps, making locking them hard. While you try like crazy to get name-lock for MB or ww or whatever, their traps are cutting you up.

Procedures:

- You need to take a very defensive stance against these guys. They are playing defensive against you, always hiding in their traps and rarely if ever going offensive.

- Be patient and work toward them. Walk your traps and always cast your SM ahead of you. You need to get them out of their trap field.

- Try to keep their traps at your upper screen corners. This may allow you to get name-lock on the trapper w/o all their traps targeting you simultaneously.

- Pay attention to the damage they are causing. If only one trap is hitting you, you can often ignore it.

- Be prepared to really pump MB and WoF if you do succeed in locking them up. TRY to hold them long enough for some of their sentries to run out. Then you can tele or DF in and ww or kick. I would recommend kicking at that point.

Second Special Note: Trapper with a conviction merc
This duel sucks. Usually I'll just ask them to unhostile. If you have to fight them, you MUST kill the merc. Ignore the assassin and kill the merc. Conviction is your ***, literally. If you get flashed with conviction while getting hit with traps, you will be dead in slightly under 1 second, 4K life notwithstanding. And trappers that use conviction mercs have a tendency to be the same variety that say 'eZ' after killing you while trapping your corpse. Don't get me wrong, I'd use conviction, or at least have it available, if I were a trapper probably myself (but I'd be friendly about it).

General Trapper note:
Trapper duels are LONG duels, if the trapper is good. If the duel goes fast, it probably means you died or the trapper had poor life. It's all about playing the corners, getting positional advantage, etc. This is one of the few duels where I am really careful about teleporting and spend a lot of time running, just outside of trap range.

BRAMBLE WW-SINS
Easy to medium duel, occasionally medium hard if they are tricked out and skilled.


Procedures:

- Stun the crap out of them with sentry and mind blast.

- They don't have tele, you do. They also run slower than you do.

- Get mind blast name-lock and tele/WW flash them.

- Your tele is a lot less interruptible than their dragon flight.

- Slap on some poison length reduction if it's allowed and/or you have it. A simple 25% makes all the difference. Ignore any and all crying about PLR. Nats armor (which has 75% PLR) was the most common ww-sin armor for a long time and no one cried then. As you get better you won't really need that PLR however.

- Don't forget to cast cloak of shadows. You both have lower defense to begin with so its effect is better here than against a barb or pally with high defense.

- A pure bramble sin wants more than anything to just be able to whirl me. Unless they directly ask me not to trap and not to MB and not to use teleport, I rarely give them a chance to get close enough or have an uninterrupted dragon flight at me. I, however, am able to WW at will (from off their screen!) due to MB name-lock and enigma. Because I frequently tele on them from off-screen, they aren't aware that a WW is coming.

- In 1.09, DF reached for about 2.5 screens. It was one of the best assassin skills. But no longer. Now it's on-screen only. This is a huge tactical disadvantage for assassins with no tele and only DF.

- It's important to time your WW right. You can see the dragon flight animation as it's beginning since it's a slow 24 frame beast. As a result, if you are on your toes, you can be whirling away when they come out on top of you.

- Your mind blast can inflict some real damage here if you can get them just slightly off your screen. They won't be able to DF you and you can pump MB and traps. It's evil but it works like a charm. Level 48 to 50 mind blast (or even a bit lower) will quickly drain life if they are off your screen and trying to slowly run or WW into DF range.

- Take advantage of their POOR mobility. Keep them off your screen!!!
 

maxicek

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 7 of 8)

SMITER/CHARGERS
Easy to medium hard duel.

Procedures:

- This is obviously a pure WW duel.

- Put the fools claw on your primary slot (and put on the angelic ammy and ring if you think you need them). This should get you to about 11K/19K AR. Knockback on this claw is a very nice-to-have here.

- I sometimes wear an OW belt for this match up.

- Fast cast is relatively pointless and they will often charge you dead when you try to cast. You can beat many smiters without any equipment changes, especially the ones who run or charge at your whirl away.

- Be careful if/when you teleport as the good ones will be able to hit you with charge as you exit since your cast is so slow.

- Whirl away, and when you have distance between you and the pally, MB them ONCE and get a couple traps out. This will keep them aggressive.

- Never trap or MB if they are close and able to charge you.

- Many of them will try to shift smite. Don't whirl through them under any circumstances.

- Spam MB and drop traps when they shift smite.

- Try to keep terrain features between you and the pally when spamming to prevent quick and easy charges on his part.

- A good pally of this type CAN kill you when you whirl away. They are able to get in smites anyway. Whirl-away is NOT immunity to smite for assassins, as some people will claim. Don't whirl in circles and don't change direction when they are near.

- Be very careful not to take long whirls (but also not whirls so short you run out of mana too quickly). They will tele or charge in front of you and shift smite. Teleport on the pally especially means you need to take short whirls unless they are dogging you from behind, doing walking smites with max block and defiance on.

- Sometimes small changes of whirlwind direction on your part (especially if you have KB on your fool's claw) will catch them, other times it will allow them to get hits in. It takes experience to figure out when to change direction when whirling away. It's more art than science. Try small zig-zags in your whirls, especially when it appears they are trying to approach you or if they are really dogging you with walking shift smites.

- Do NOT use your shadow master!! They can lifetap it.

- Watch out for lifetap. Exile is the single most annoying rune word in the history of rune words. I have lost duels to smiters when they were down to less than 100 life and tapped it all back. Make sure you don't try to hover their name to check their life (which is very tempting late in the duel). You'll probably get charged.

- Don't MB them unless they are moving away from you. They'll get in a free hit otherwise.

- You can sometimes MB them continuously if they are shift-smiting because they got tired of hitting your whirl-away. Watch it however, as the good ones will lull you into MBing an instant too long and charge you dead before you know what hit you.


FIST OF HEAVENS PALLY
Easy to hard duel, big variation. If these guys use charge well as a primary means of movement, they can be very hard indeed. Charge can make getting a good WW very hard.

Procedures:

- Put on the Jade with the 15 ias/30 light res jewel if you have one. Put on a T'Gods.

- I find that mind blast is often my best weapon.

- Focus on executing WW hotkey flash when they exit your screen. Be careful though, as you will teleport to a zone without traps...

- Traps and mind blast interfere with their ability to get off FoH hits. Traps are critical to winning this duel. Always use lighting sentry.

- Always have the master out to take random FoH hits and to create confusion.

- ALWAYS have traps out and the MB swirlies going. Always. If your traps run out and the pally is any good, you're going to die.

- The pally will try to flash you with conviction. Don't be afraid to get off his screen if you see the ugly green glow.

- Move around a lot but not out of trap range if the pally is near.

- Look for any chance at all to MB/tele/WW flash him.

- Always pump them with mind blast when you have a chance, especially as they run all over the place with charge. I have actually killed defensive charging pallys with mind blast.

FIST of HEAVENS PALLY with SMITE and CHARGE
Medium to very hard duel. Usually, the pally won't have the proper equipment to make this approach really deadly. But the ones who do and who are skilled are really hard. They force you to go res/absorb but also have a powerful smite attack. The most dangerous, IMO, are the ones who focus more on the smite. You don't dare get very offensive because they will smite you, likely triggering lifetap in the process. But if you stand off, they will flash you with conviction and FoH you. If you keep your SM out to draw off the FoH, they can tap it. If you try to spam MB, they will desync charge you. They likely have upwards of 4K life, making MB less useful anyway. This is all-around a very hard duel when the pally is good.

Procedures:

- First, you need to nullify their elemental attack. Don't feel bad. You have to negate their ranged advantage with that FoH. They still have a nasty physical attack as well so they remain plenty dangerous. Stack light res and put on a t'gods. Replace some life/mana scs with life/light res scs if necessary. Once you kill their light attack, they become a smiter/charger, mostly.

- Always keep traps up and just MB them occasionally, so they stay stunned. W/o those swirlies, your traps mean nothing.

- With FoH off the table, they have to close with you. They may still try to flash you with conviction, because it's unlikely you will completely negate it. Whirl away is your friend once you remove their ranged attack.

- If they have high defense on top of everything else, and set their movement to walk with good use of charge to avoid any type of stun-lock, it's going to be a hard battle. You can't wear your fools claw or your angelics because your resistance (and cast rate if angelics) will suffer too much. If you are wealthy, consider getting a CoA with a pair of 15 ias/30 light res jewels. This, combined with several light res scs MAY allow you to forego the jade talon for the fools claw. I haven't tried this yet, but I think you would be forced to wear a wisp (along with the t'gods) to make up for the lost stacked res.

- If they trigger lifetap, whirl away in a straight line until the curse duration runs out (unless they teleport in front of you). Don't allow them to leech all their life back. Doing turns while tapped makes hitting you easier for the pally (but again, this is a 'feel' thing, sometimes quick turns can help you win).

Keep in mind, there are only a tiny fraction of duelers this good with their pallys. Most of this pally type will be beatable with standard techniques. It's just that this variety may offer a major challenge if played and designed well. This is one of the few battles you will have where a big equipment change may be required, right down to switching out charms.

NOTE: My hardest series of duels yet was with a pally of this type. But no other pally has come close to the difficulty of that one individual. The potential exists for this match-up to be very very hard. But it's pretty rare.

HAMMER PALLY
Medium to pretty hard. The high defense versions of these guys are potentially very hard. Your whirlwinds rarely if ever hit and they can charge out of any stun-lock.

Procedures:

- Always have LS traps up.

- Always have the master up and MB the pally every opportunity you get. The traps plus MB stun means it is hard to tele right on top of you and spam hammers. The stun will interrupt them.

- They have to pause briefly to get hammers going. WW flash them at that point. Don't do triangles. Just do a pass and get out. Place more traps and MB again. Rinse and repeat. Pay attention to how well your WWs are hitting. If they are not, then the pally probably has too high a defense. You will need to either equip the fools claw (not the angelics!....you need fast cast) or you need to focus on mind blast.

- Hurt or even kill them with mind blast. I have killed many hammer pallies with mind blast. My assassin sported level 48 MB (up to lvl 50 now with hellfire) and it never failed to inflict SIGNIFICANT damage. Hammer pallys rarely have significant DR. Use this point to your advantage.

- If their defense is low, you can risk a tele on them when stunlocked briefly and try a quick kick sequence. Be careful and only do it if their defense allows it. I actually rarely if ever try to kick hammer pallys.

Remember: Mind blast is your friend.

AURADINS
Well built auradins CAN be very hard, actually (barring heavy absorb). They will charge around the edges of your screen, not allowing you to get hits at all. Lucky for you most of them have no skill (a few do have skill though, and are dangerous because of this fact). I won't go into whether or not this a reflection of the type of people this build attracts.

Killing them:
- Put the jade on off-hand and the chaos on primary (equipping the chaos first of course...). Put on a dwarf or T'Gods depending on whether the aura is fire or shock. Make sure you have lots of res.

- High level MB is required.

- 65 fastcast is required. You have to pound them with MB.

- Use lightning sentry to stun, not wake.

- When they retreat, MB them and then, from the MB name-lock, hotkey flash tele/WW to get in a free ww hit. Lay traps the INSTANT you exit ww. Rinse and repeat.

- Many of them will charge/smite as well, since their auras add a decent amount of damage, and they may also have grief. Make sure to whirl away and be careful they don't fake you out in order to flash you with conviction.

- Keep the SM out to take any FoH hits, etc. and cause a little confusion. If they lifetap, be careful with the SM. They can tap the master and get a big life boost.

- Don't be afraid to teleport out of range and regroup if things aren't going well.

Potentially Dangerous Auradin Variant: Zeal or Smite
Be REALLY careful with these guys. If you whirl through them, they can tear you apart, even with your absorb. Always whirl away and keep those traps out. Make sure that they always have MB swirlies on them.

BOWAZONS
Easy duel.

Procedures:

- Spiral in to the zon as you approach.

- DF them when on screen and kick to death.

- Always keep the master out for minion stack.

- If they are a fast runner, get MB name-lock and flash tele/WW. Since they are running it's basically an auto-hit (unless they dodge it).

- Use sentry as needed for stun. They desync out of wake too easily so don't use it.

- Careful about the occasional uber-fast shooter with faith, knockback and an inventory full of damage charms. They can kill you if you are sloppy. But ONLY if you're sloppy.

Your most likely mode of dying in this duel is to get crappy terrain and get hung up in it while the zon spams GAs.

JAVA ZONS
Easy duel.

Procedures:

- You usually don't need a jade or a T'gods. Just lay down wake of fire, MB them once and kick to death. Wake will trigger endless evade. Your kicks will trigger dodge when evade doesn't trigger, and the mind blast will ensure they are stunned the remainder of the time.

- Don't let your traps run out!!

- Did you lose any life at all once you had them locked in WoF? If so, you probably made a mistake.

PLAGUEZON
Easy usually to very occasionally medium or a bit harder.
Funny, I consider this to be POTENTIALLY the hardest zon build to fight (IF they are good). They can suck your life with a single hit like a nova nec, but they are much harder to catch and lock up. You don't see many of them either so it's hard to get repeatable techniques against them.

Procedures:

- Your best bet is to do drive-by WW shots with the occasional kick sequence if you can get a stun sequence running.

- Don't do triangular WWs. They WILL hit you with poison if you mess one up. Plus that means they are standing still and have max block along with their dodge.

- Hit them on the run. Don't do long whirls!!

- These zons are runners. They will desync out of your traps much of the time. Use lightning sentry because it will help pause them occasionally, switching the wake if you feel it will be useful in a given situation.

- When they aren't close enough to hit you with poison, pound them with MB.

- If you get them in MB name-lock from far enough away, you might be able to kill them with it, or at least force them to be aggressive and make mistakes.

- If their FHR seems low or they aren't as skilled, WoF may get you the win.

WW BARBS
Your only nearly impossible duel. You CAN beat ww barbs. I do it all the time. But the ones I beat are of questionable ability or equipment or connection or all of the above. A good ww barb will take you down 9 times out of 10 or better. A really good ww barb isn't beatable at all.

Procedures:

- Your only real chance is to get sentry trap fields up and make sure they are always MB'd. When they are off your screen, and you have name-lock, tele/WW flash them or pump MB. If you are lucky, they won't be whirling and you may get in a solid hit. You may also get ripped up if you tele into a whirlwind. This is a real gamble.

- You can either wear the fools claw and angelics for 19K AR or say screw it and go for fast cast. Fast cast means you want to hit them with WW when they are running and to wear them down with OW and mind blast. Either option has its good and bad points.

- You have a better chance vs. dual wielding barbs than vs. sword/shield. If its sword shield and they are good, just pack a belt of mana pots and try to MB them to death. It's long, boring and will drive a lot of barbs absolutely apoplectic. But you might, if you're very very lucky, pull out a win. The odds are not in your favor though. It also ceases to be much fun pretty quick.

- When fighting good BvC barbs, make sure to set your movement to WALK, not run. Otherwise they will give you a taste of your own medicine and slam you when on the run. Always tele anyway (good technique), and this won't be an issue.

- Good BvC barbs are FAST. Further, they will flash you with holy freeze from dual dooms on switch. Be prepared for this.

- Go play in the vicinity of a bunch of bogs to limit long whirls and desync by the barb.

Don't feel bad because you can't beat barbs. You can kill a broader slice of good duelers more efficiently than they can. They can kill anyone, it's true. But if you play very well, your overall win record should be as good as or better than any barb, even the better BvC types.

Alternate technique vs. Barbs

- Don't trap at all. Barbs can desync more when you trap.

- If you are fast, you could try to go no traps and just use MB, quick drive-by whirls, and teleporting clear of any barb whirls.

- The key here is to watch for the barb to tele (if they have it). You tele to the side when you see them start the animation. (This is really bloody hard, in case you haven't tried it before.) They will come out of their tele in WW if they are any good. You then lock them with MB and spam it for the length of their whirl (better hope they whirl long...). If they have good whirl control, this probably won't work.

- Try a quick MB-tele-WW flash if they aren't whirling and then tele clear immediately.

- If they don't have enigma, just pay attention and don't get caught by long whirls that desync. This is a long process no matter what you do.

- Finally, you could consider pre-buffing venom vs. good barbs. I don't do it because I think you will die anyway and it just becomes a huge pain. If I were a barb I wouldn't want to stand in town waiting for some assassin to do a major equipment change/pre-buff between each duel. Play what you have and let the chips fall where they may.
 

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The PvP Fastcast WW/Kick/Stun Assassin - by Speederländer (Part 8 of 8)

Credits
Maxus - For writing the trapper guide that got me started on trappers.

Skoal Bandit - One of the best duelers I've ever played. Demonstrated a very high level of skill in dueling. Also a funny guy.

Valoren - For running one of the largest and best dueling groups on any realm, Gimmeitam, which provided endless hours of dueling practice vs. the best people on USWest.

Chuck - For some of the funniest 1.09 public dueling and hardcore PKing I've ever had as well as always being available for practice. And also for lots of free stuff and endless rushes to try new builds.

Ilkori - For providing huge amounts of technical information and feedback on ideas as well as feedback on the details of this guide.

Koda - Came up with the WW version of the ghost assassin. First to call it a ghost (as far as I know).

jrichard - For providing most of the technical details (especially on kicks) that made fine tuning of this build possible.

Naliworld - For making the assassin forum on diabloii.net a great place to post and work out ideas and for lots of helpful feedback on this guide.

Everyone who gave me feedback on the earlier versions of this guide.

Speederlander (me) - Came up with the kick version of the ghost assassin (fast cast anti-caster kicker) and wrote this guide for a hybrid assassin combining the best of all types.

Gyrl - My final (retired) assassin on *Apokalyptik that allowed me to pull together all of the ideas presented here.

END