The Warrior-Monk, and Uber-Tristram Assassin by JanusJones

maxicek

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The Warrior-Monk, and Uber-Tristram Assassin Build - Guide v. 1.1
Originally posted by JanusJones, Sep 13, 2005

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

ENTER THE WARRIOR

The people in the town didn't know what to make of her. Few ever heard of the Mageslayers, and those who had knew little of her monastery. Despite the uncomfortable stares from these rough villagers, Nandi felt strangely at peace. She was, after all, among warriors, and there was a straightforward strength to these people that she admired. Though their methods might differ, they were in many ways the same.

It might have been her appearance that led the old man to trust her. He had the look of a hardened soldier of many campaigns. His armor, though dented, gleamed with the dull sheen of constant care and repair. Nandi had inclined her head further than she was accustomed to, showing the man her respect; a warrior's best friend was her equipment, and this barbarian clearly honored that bond. Quahl-Kehk had eyed her suspiciously, his piercing stare catching on the cutting edge of her axe, her high helm, and the sturdy shield slung across her back. A creature called Shenk, he had said, eyeing her suspiciously. Cut off the head and the body dies. End the siege and you'll earn my trust.

Before she left town she checked her gear. Her blades, blackened with soot, still bore the potent adder's venom she had so meticulously applied. Her axe's edge shone, ground razor-fine on the blacksmith's wheel. She adjusted her helm, ensuring her peripheral vision was not compromised. The master had always taught that a warrior's best weapon was to know the battlefield; you could only defend against that which you could see.

She took a moment to steady her breathing, centering herself. Her mind emptied of the squalid town, the stink of the demon's fires outside the walls, the moans of the injured men who littered the street, the admonitions and warnings of the Elder, Cain. Closing her eyes, she focused her inner sight on a single point of light hovering in the darkness behind her lids. Under her attention, it grew into a pulsing sphere. She felt it's warm pulse, felt the ache of her muscles fade as the ki surged through her. When her eyes opened, she felt a momentary satisfaction: they would never see her coming.

INTRODUCTION

Let me start by saying this is not an original build. It is essentially a re-make of Frogboybri's Ninja guide, to whom I owe many thanks (thanks, man!). It is different in several crucial ways, both in terms of equipment and in terms of skill selection. Above and beyond uber-hunting, it is a fun and viable Hell build which is a different take on the melee Assassin.

I've called it the 'Warrior-Monk' since I chose not to use traps (a tactic which would appeal to Ninjas and Assassins) and the character is a melee build. Traps are something which you could decide to optimize on this character - however I have not. I'm not a huge fan of traps and wanted to make a solid melee build to tackle the uber three. Also, its equipment makes it look far more martial than most Assassins, and its play-style reinforces that image.

I've included only moderate detail on specific equipment modifiers as this information is available from a number of sources; I mostly get mine HERE. Check out any of the specifics if you're curious.

ADVANTAGES

This build is the fastest way to apply max Crushing Blow in the game - period. Zealers can't swing as fast and Crushing Blow is nerfed on ranged attacks (making a 2 fps Strafe useless for the purposes of CB). Dragon Talon's speed - the fastest melee attack in the game - and its incredibly high AR makes it perfect for running uber-trist. Using the gear and skills I suggest, this Assassin can tank uber-Mephisto without breaking a sweat.

This build can tank in almost any area of the game with the right equipment. Between Mind Blast, Life Tap, and your Shadow Master you will never be overwhelmed. Play smart and you'll never have to pick up a corpse.

This build has a VERY effective ranged and melee attack, making it incredibly versatile. Unlike bow/javelin zon hybrids, you never have to switch weapons - melee and ranged can be on right and left clicks (or just ahotkey away).

This build has both poison and physical damage, and can take nearly any monster in the game. With the right gear, it can also do in phys/poison immunes without breaking a sweat.

You have a physical damage attack which does not hurt when you've got Iron Maiden cast on you: Blade Fury. This means you can slaughter Doom Knights without a care in the world, while barbs drop like flies around you.

Warrior-Monks look COOL.

DISADVANTAGES

When built right, none! If you don't like thinking while you play, this isn't the build for you. It only takes an absolute minimum of strategy to play a Warrior-Monk right, though, and they're unbelievably cool. Trust me.

SKILLS

TRAPS

1 in Fire Blast (prerequisite)
1 in Wake of Fire (prerequisite)
1 in Blade Sentinel (prerequisite)
1 in Blade Fury (main skill!)
1~20 in Death Sentry

Notes on Skills:

Blade Fury, though it is a main skill for this build, only requires a single point to be effective. The majority of the damage dealt by the spell is weapon and item dependant, with further points only netting limited returns. Note that it is a PvM skill and is not useful for the ubers - the Ignores Target Defense modifier does not apply to champions or super-uniques. It is, however, very useful for dealing with other monsters at range, thinning enemy packs to make them easier to take in melee.

This skill is actually a one-point wonder, but the key is your equipment has to be designed to augment it. Fortunately, this build's equipment is great for powering up some very respectable shuriken.

Using Blade Fury can be awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll wonder how any of your assassins did without it. The first key to using this skill well is this: NEVER TARGET ANYTHING. It seems like an odd piece of advice, I know, but hear me out. When you start using Blade Fury, your assassin strikes a ninja pose, arm outthrust, and then begins hurling shuriken. However, the problem is that this little pose takes a little while to get into; precious moments lost from your attack routine. If you directly target an enemy, you'll chuck blades till it goes down and then your assassin will stand back up, put her hands in her pockets, and look pleased with herself: mission accomplished, enemy dead. The problem is there are usually more than one enemy, and when you click on the next you have to go through your pose animation yet again. This is a great opportunity for your enemies to mob you and thump you silly.

Instead of actually clicking on an enemy, you'll want to hold down shift and click on empty space - somewhere between you and the enemy. Be careful not to click on an item (if you're also holding down Alt to scan for decent drops) or you won't start your blade stream. Then, while holding shift and the attack button down, you can move your stream of blades like a hose, waving it back and forth to cut your enemies down. Be careful not to move the cursor over your life/mana globes or the screen border (buttons, stamina bar, etc.) though, or your attack routine will be interrupted and you'll have to re-strike your chucking pose again.

Something that initially confused me, however, was my tendency to miss certain enemies. I'd be clicking more or less directly on the guy in question, but somehow my stars were going past him, not into him. I've come to realize that this is the case only with enemies standing to the right or left of the assassin; up or down you'll get them everytime. The reason? I was aiming for their heads or torsos - the stars themselves get chucked just a little lower than the cursor. The solution is simple: aim for the feet of your enemies and you'll hit them every time. Think of it as hamstringing 'em.

Note: the ITD on Last Wish (and many other nice Warrior-Monk weapons) won't work on champions and bosses. This is what your Dragon Talon is for; it has HUGE AR bonuses and can make short work of even the toughest baddies (read: uber three!). Blade Fury, however, when coupled with ITD is one of the best ranged physical damage attacks in the game (barring, of course, Strafe and Multishot - curse those zons!). I particularly like that it can be effectively used to scout out monsters. I usually keep one finger on shift and one finger on attack while I'm running, then periodically hit shift and shoot blades off-screen. When any of my chance-to-cast effects (firestorm, charged bolt, life tap, etc.) trigger, I know there are monsters out there; so I just keep spamming my blades. By the time any of them make it to me, they're usually in bad shape - perfect for a nice kick to finish'em off.

A strange thing I've noticed: though Dragon Talon will release the Charged Bolt effect from Last Wish, Blade Fury won't - ever. Don't precisely know why, but check it out for yourself - very odd.

I would also like to point out that many players swear by the effectiveness of Death Sentry, the last skill in the Lightning Traps branch of the tree. It is effective with only a single-point investment, levelling packs with heavy damage based on monster life (making it deadly in Hell, where monsters are tougher than nails) and removing enemy corpses. It is, however, useless in uber-tristram without an item which has the modifier 'Slain Monsters Rest In Peace,' since the minions there do not leave corpses otherwise. Also if you choose to use Phoenix, corpses will evaporate giving you life and mana - which means they won't be available for explosions. I chose not to include it here as I myself do not use it.

Another reason is that between Blade Fury, Mind Blast, and Dragon Talon I found myself with more than enough to keep straight in terms of hotkeys. Players comfortable with quick skill-shifting during combat, however, should look into using Death Setnry to increase their crowd-control potential. I find that with Mind Blast and Cloak of Shadows most enemies are occupied enough to give me ample time to kill them with my kicks and shuriken.

SHADOW DISCIPLINES

1 in Claw Mastery
1 in Claw Block
1 in Psychic Hammer
1 in Burst of Speed
1 in Shadow Warrior
1~20 in Cloak of Shadows
1~20 in Fade
20 in Shadow Master
1~20 in Mind Blast
20 in Venom

Notes on Skills:

Venom provides one of the main sources of damage for this build, and confers its damage on both Dragon Talon's kicks and Blade Fury's shuriken. The one thing I don't like about this skill is its lousy duration. You'll need to keep periodically checking to see if you're still enchanted with this skill, and it'll be hard to tell just by looking - when you're Faded, you're hard to see!

The two auras, Fade and Burst of Speed, should be used conditionally depending on the situation; when using Blade Fury at range, Fade should be used (as Blade Fury's rate of fire is independent of IAS). When kicking in melee, however, Burst of Speed will provide the extra IAS needed to hit the 7/3 frames per attack breakpoint for Dragon Talon. The notable melee exception is when fighting uber-Mephisto; in this case, using Fade is a must. Plus, the loss in speed is marginal; at worst, you'll be at 9/3, which is still faster than the quickest Zealot or Fury Druid - meanwhile, you'll have more intrinsic resistances than either build.

Though the Shadow Master will provide Mind Blasts which will help with crowd control, if you are a heavy PvM you may want to increase the skill so that you have a higher chance of converting your enemies. Mind Blast works especially well with the equipment for this build, as the Might aura from the Last Wish axe will apply to your newly converted minions and help them beat down their former comrades. Also, many PvP players also max this skill for the increased damage, as they use it to lock up their opponent while they approach.
As far as Shadow Master, let me just say this summon is great: best AI of any summon in the game, hefty life, huge AR, respectable resists, and to top it off she's generated with nice rare equipment. In fact, I have on a number of occasions had her generate with a weapon that cast Amp Damage on hit - amazingly handy in Hell. However she does have one major drawback. If you run around enough, I garuntee you will somehow (go figure!) leave your shadow behind. And when you do, she will inexplicably poof. More than any other summon I've used (and I've played with 'em all), Shadow Master will dissappear when you run too far afield. My suggestion is to stop frequently to let her catch up, or if you're just flat-out running for a destination just re-cast her when you get there. She also has a very limited lifespan against bosses and champs - watch her and don't be ashamed to re-cast when necessary.

Finally Cloak of Shadows - maxing this in a PvM character is usually a mistake, since you can't re-cast the skill until the first one has run out, meaning that increased duration can get very annoying very quickly. However for PvP and for the purpose of uber-hunting it can be incredibly handy - you cast it once and minions ignore you; plus, they are easier to hit and you are harder to hit! A maxed CoS for a uber-only Assassin would be a wise investment.

MARTIAL ARTS

1~20 in Dragon Talon
1~20 in Dragon Flight

Notes on Skills:

Dragon Talon is an incredibly useful skill for applying various effects to enemies; however, you only gain one kick for every 6 levels in the skill: level 6 = 2 kicks, level 12 = 3 kicks, etc. This means it is very important to know exactly how much +skills gear you plan to wear before you build the character so that you don't waste too many points here. The best (and most reasonably achievable) levels to shoot for are 24 and 30, for 5 and 6 kicks, respectively.

Tiger Strike and Cobra Strike, though fantastic skills for almost any other build, are not worth investing in for a Warrior-Monk; the speed of your kicks will make charging up a waste of time. Moreover, the effects of charge-up skills will only apply to the first kick. The only other skill worth considering on this tree is Dragon Flight, a must-have for PvP players. One point is usually enough, as it is normally simply used to get to your target as fast as possible (and it's the only option outside of Enigma's Teleport for doing that at a PvP-friendly speed). Maxing Dragon Flight can also make for a nasty opening kick.
 

maxicek

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EQUIPMENT

Weapon: Last Wish

Let's start with the most important item: your weapon. There are a lot of options here, but I tried to select a weapon which would supply both my kicks and my shuriken with useful modifiers. One of the best choices one can make for both skills is Last Wish. Mine happens to be built in a Berserker Axe, but if I had it to do over again I might have chosen a Phase Blade (since weapon speed directly affects the speed of your kicks).

The important modifiers here are numerous: first off, the 60-70% Crushing Blow, which applies to both Blade Fury and Dragon Talon. Next, the 10% chance to cast a level 18 Life Tap curse on enemies, a highly important characteristic when fighting in melee with Hell monsters. The Ignore Target Defense modifier is largely irrelevant for your kicks (sinice Dragon Talon's Attack Rating is so wonderfully high), but will be indispensible for Blade Fury (which relies on base AR, making it very hard to hit without ITD). The Prevent Monster Heal modifier is immesely useful in Hell, where many monsters have regeneration rates that make killing them difficult.

The weapon's high base damage is useless for your kicks, which calculate damage independently of weapon damage, but will greatly help your Blade Fury attack (which does ¾'s of your base attack damage with your weapon). The level 17 Might aura will likewise aid your Blade Fury, but more importantly will help your kick damage as well.

The first problematic modifier on this weapon is the 6% chance to cast a level 11 Fade effect when struck; this can trigger in melee, overriding your Burst of Speed (only one can be active at a time) or a higher level Fade and slowing down your attack speed. With the proper amount of equipment-based IAS (exactly 32%), however, you should be able to reach the 9/3 fpa kick rate even without the effect of Burst of Speed, which is more than fast enough for killing monsters. Also, Fade has a very beneficial effect in melee - it adds physical damage reduction. This, combined with it's bonus to resists and shortening of curse duration, makes it so that it's never a bad idea. If you wish to make a Trapper/Kicker hybrid, Last Wish is a great way to save on skill points - use the level 11 Fade on hit and spend the points you would use on maxed Fade on upping your traps.

A note on IAS, weapon speed, and fpa for Dragon Talon: the information presented here is based off of jrichard's famously well-researched kicking guide, which is offered in it's most complete and up-to-date form on his website, here [http://e.domaindlx.com/jrichard/d2/kicking basics.htm]. He calculates that it requires, with a weapon that has a base speed of 0 (as a Last Wish berserker axe does) and no Burst of Speed active, a total of 32 IAS to hit 3 frames per attack with your follow-up kicks and 133% IAS for a 7 frame initial kick. While the initial kick will be difficult to get to 7 frames, the IAS for a 3 frame follow-up is achievable pretty easily with the right gear - I'll detail how as I go along. However, if you're using Last Wish in a different weapon (say, a Phase Blade for instance) the calculation will change - check jrichard's Speed Calculator [http://e.domaindlx.com/JRichard/D2/attackcalc/attackcalc.xls] for more information. Finally I would like to mention a last (and amazing!) option for Last Wish kickers - you can put the runeword into an ethereal item as kicks don't degrade weapon durability. This will increase your Blade Fury damage significantly, and is very sexy!

There are some other weapon options for a kicker like this; I understand that Last Wish is outside of most players price range. One of the more interesting options, I think, is the unique unearthed wand Death's Web. Though it's commonly considered to be only a weapon for Poisonmancers, Death's Web in the hands of a kicker becomes a weapon to be rightly feared. First of all, it has a +2 to all skills; note that's all skills, not just Necromancer skills. Second, it removes a varying amount from enemies' poison resistance: anywhere from 40 to 50%. There are threads on this in the Necromancer forum (find one here), but the main point I wish to convey is that not only does lowering enemies' poison resistance increase the damage dealt by said poison, it also increases the duration. This means not only do you do more damage per second, but that the poison lasts longer. This is of less importance with Venom, as the duration is so low, but the kicks from Dragon Talon will re-apply poison each time, resetting the poison counter. In other words, the poison will be constant until the end of your final kick, when it will last until the duration runs out. If you do choose to go with Death's Web, you may also choose to use Bramble as armor for the extra +25~50% to poison skill damage.

For PvM, however, you can also use almost any decent weapon with Crushing Blow you choose. If you want Blade Fury to be effective it has to be a high damage weapon in addition to having decent Crushing Blow, but if you don't care about chucking shuriken you can wield almost anything - regardless of its base damage! The fact of the matter is that kick damage is in no way related to weapon base damage, but is affected by the weapon's speed and modifiers. For quick reference, the following modifiers apply to kicks (thanks to jrichard, kick master, for this list!):

Life Leech, Mana Leech, Elemental Damage, Magical Damage, Chance to cast X on striking, Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Prevent Monster Heal, Ignore Target Defense , Hit Blinds Target, Hit Causes Monster to Flee, Hit Freezes Target, Hit Slows Target

Thus you can use almost any decent weapon for Crushing Blow - The Gnasher, Stormlash, Death's Cleaver, Razor's Edge, Windhammer, etc.

Below, I'm providing a comprehensive list of weapons for a Warrior-Monk. The main modifiers I focus on are Crushing Blow, Open Wounds, Ignores Target's Defense, Prevents Monter Heal, and Chance-to-Cast, in that order. For each I will provide a short discussion of pros and cons, and also a grade for Blade Fury (BF) and Dragon Talon (DT) ranging from 1 (poor) to 3 (excellent).

List of Optional Weapons for use with Dragon Talon:
The following is a list of weapons with good mods for Dragon Talon. On each you will need to use JRichard's speed calculator (which uses Excel) to calculate the amount of IAS necessary on your gear to hit a low breakpoint without Burst of Speed.

Last Wish: BF 3, DT 3
6% Chance to Cast Slvl 11 Fade when Struck
10% Chance to Cast Slvl 18 Life Tap on Striking
20% Chance to Cast Slvl 20 Charged Bolt on Attack
Slvl 17 Might Aura when Equipped
+330-375% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
60-70% Chance of Crushing Blow
Prevent Monster Heal
Hit Blinds Target
0.5% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items Per Clvl
This is the main item I recommend for this build, and is well-nigh unbeatable in terms of utility for both Blade Fury and Dragon Talon. Though Death might make for more powerful blades, Last Wish's Might aura will make your kicks hurt a LOT more.

Death: BF 3, DT 3
Indestructible
100% Chance to Cast Slvl 44 Chain Lightning when You Die
25% Chance to Cast Slvl 18 Glacial Spike on Attack
+300-385% Enhanced Damage
20% Bonus to Attack Rating
+50 to Attack Rating
Adds 1-50 Lightning Damage
7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
50% Chance of Crushing Blow
+0.5% Deadly Strike per clvl
+1 to Light Radius
Slvl 22 Blood Golem (15 Charges)
Requirements -20%
A close second to Last Wish, Death is amazing. The 50% CB is choice, and the Deadly Strike will make your shuriken sting. Finally, the ED on this is great, and the fact that you can build it in an ethereal item will mean your Blades are nasty and effective. The 20% bonus to AR will likewise aid your hit chances with shuriken nicely.

Destruction: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
23% Chance to Cast Slvl 12 Volcano on Striking
5% Chance to Cast Slvl 23 Molten Boulder on Striking
100% Chance to Cast Slvl 45 Meteor when You Die
15% Chance to Cast Slvl 22 Nova on Attack
+350% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
Adds 100-180 Magic Damage
7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
20% Chance of Crushing Blow
20% Deadly Strike
Prevent Monster Heal
+10 to Dexterity
This one has great damage, ITD (which is crucial for effective shuriken!), 20% CB and 20% Deadly Strike - not shabby at all! It also has a host of CTC effects, but beware - they're druid skills, which means they'll stop you up with slow casting animations. If you're looking for a nice backup element, however, pairing this with Phoenix will mean a TON of fire effects for some very respectable damage.

Faith: BF 3, DT 3
Slvl 12-15 Fanaticism Aura when Equipped
+1-2 to All Skills
+330% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
300% Bonus to Attack Rating
+75% Damage to Undead
+50 to Attack Rating Against Undead
All Resistances +15
10% Reanimate: Returned
75% Extra Gold from Monsters
Wait a second - a bow? What am I thinking? Here's the basic rationale: Faith has all the good mods! ITD, 300% bonus to AR (those blades will ALWAYS hit!), and a Fanaticism aura! This means your blades will be nasty, true, but SO WILL YOUR KICKS - the Fanaticism will work with Dragon Talon just fine! Also, the IAS will cover any loss of IAS from a maxed Fade! To tell the truth, this might just give Last Wish a run for its money . . . especially as the combination of re-animated monsters and Mind Blast will mean at any given time you'll have plenty of meat shield defense.

Obedience: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
30% Chance to Cast Slvl 21 Enchant when You Kill An Enemy
40% Faster Hit Recovery
+370% Enhanced Damage
-25% Target Defense
+2 to Attack Rating
Adds 3-14 Cold Damage
-25% to Enemy Fire Resistance
40% Chance of Crushing Blow
+200-300 Defense
+10 to Strength
+10 to Dexterity
All Resistances +20-30
Increase Maximum Durability 13%
Requirements -20%
Nice Crushing Blow and Enchant to boost your AR - always helpful for shuriken.

Grief: BF 3, DT 2
35% Chance to Cast Slvl 15 Venom on Striking
+30-40% Increased Attack Speed
Adds +340-400 Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
-25% Target Defense
+1.875% Damage to Demons Per Clvl
Adds 5-30 Fire Damage
-20-25% to Enemy Poison Resistance
20% Deadly Strike
Prevent Monster Heal
+2 to Mana after Each Kill
+11 Life after Each Kill
The new classic. It has ITD, it's fast, it does more damage to demons (look out uber-three!), it has Prevent Monster Heal - in short, it's groovy. It does NOT, however, have Crushing Blow, nor does it have too many groovy kick modifiers. Sigh. It can, however, save you some points on Venom, since it will cast it for you.

Infinity: BF 2, DT 2
50% Chance to Cast Slvl 20 Chain Lightning when You Kill An Enemy
Slvl 12 Conviction Aura when Equipped
+35% Faster Run/Walk
+255-325% Enhanced Damage
-55% to Enemy Lightning Resistance
40% Chance of Crushing Blow
Prevent Monster Heal
0.5-49.5 to Vitality (Clvl)
30% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
Slvl 21 Cyclone Armor (30 Charges)
Erm . . . wow. So OK, it's a polearm, which is kind of annoying. But the Conviction aura - hooah! Couple this with a Dream helm and damn, but ain't you sexy. Frankly, however, if you can afford this you're better off throwing it on your merc and wearing a Dream helm and shield - which is kind of a fun variant, if not the most effective ever.

Lawbringer: BF 1, DT 2
20% Chance to Cast Slvl 15 Decripify on Striking
Slvl 18 Sanctuary Aura when Equipped
-50% Target Defense
Adds 150-210 Fire Damage
Adds 130-180 Cold Damage
7% Life Stolen Per Hit
Slain Monsters Rest In Peace
+200-250 Defense Vs. Missile (varies)
+10 to Dexterity
75% Extra Gold from Monsters
This can be a very interesting option. First of all, you should put it in a Phase since it has no enhanced damage to speak of. This makes it pretty lousy for Blade Fury, but check out the kick modifier: level 15 Decrepify on hit. This is a really nice one for boss-killing, and will amp your damage and slow the punks down to where they're easy to hit. Fast in a Phase, too.

Pride: BF 1.5, DT 1
25% Chance to Cast Slvl 17 Fire Wall when Struck
Slvl 18 Concentration Aura when Equipped
260-300% Bonus to Attack Rating
+1% Damage to Demons Per Clvl
Adds 50-280 Lightning Damage
20% Deadly Strike
Hit Blinds Target
Freezes Target +3
+10 to Vitality
Replenish Life +8
1.875-185.625% Extra Gold from Monsters (Clvl)
Polearms are always better on a merc. That said, you gotta love the HUGE AR bonus and Concentration aura - if it only had some base ED, this would do wonders for shuriken.

Wrath: BF 2, DT 2
30% Chance to Cast Slvl 1 Decrepify on Striking
5% Chance to Cast Slvl 10 life Tap on Striking
+375% Damage to Demons
+100 to Attack Rating Against Demons
+250-300% Damage to Undead
Adds 85-120 Magic Damage
Adds 41-240 Lightning Damage
20% Chance of Crushing Blow
Prevent Monster Heal
+10 to Energy
Cannot Be Frozen
Crushiong Blow is good, Prevent Monster Heal is good, and the ED versus demons and undead mean this could be a wonderful investment for a heavy PvM player. And let's not forget . . . Life Tap AND Decrepify! Whoo-hoo! Not to be overlooked!

Beast: BF 3, DT 3
Slvl 9 Fanaticism Aura when Equipped
+40% Increased Attack Speed
+240-270% Enhanced Damage
20% Chance of Crushing Blow
25% Chance of Open Wounds
+3 to Werebear
+3 to Lycanthropy
Prevent Monster Heal
+25-40 to Strength
+10 to Energy
+2 to Mana After Each Kill
Slvl 13 Summon Grizzly (5 Charges)
Okay, now we're talking. The Strength mod helps meet equipment requirements, OW and CB apply to both kicks and blades, Prveent Monster Heal, speed, and a slvl 9 Fanaticism aura? Holy crud! This weapon gets two enthusiastic thumbs way the hell UP!

Eternity: BF 2, DT 2
Indestructible
+260-310% Enhanced Damage
+9 to Minimum Damage
7% Life Stolen Per Hit
20% Chance of Crushing Blow
Hit Blinds Target
Slows Target By 33%
Replenish Mana 16%
Replenish Life +16
Cannot Be Frozen
30% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items
Slvl 8 Revive (88 Charges)
Actually not too bad! It can be built in an ethereal weapon, making it snazzy for Blade Fury damage, has some decent CB, and slows its target!

Kingslayer: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
+30% Increased Attack Speed
+230-270% Enhanced Damage
-25% Target Defense
20% Bonus to Attack Rating
33% Chance of Crushing Blow
50% Chance of Open Wounds
+1 to Vengeance
Prevent Monster Heal
+10 to Strength
40% Extra Gold from Monsters
Crushing Blow and Open Wounds . . . and a +10 to Strength. Very respectable. Also, Vengeance can help versus the occasional poison/physical immune. Speedy too, with PMH and a 20% bonus to AR!

Black: BF 1, DT 2.5
Slvl 4 Corpse Explosion (12 Charges)
40% Chance of Crushing Blow
Magic Damage Reduced by 2
+120% Enhanced Damage
Adds 3-14 Cold Damage
+200 to Attack Rating
+10 to Vitality
+15% Increased Attack Speed
Knockback
And oldie but really goodie. 40% CB will make your kicks shine, though your shuriken will do absolutely poop.

Fury: BF 2, DT 1.5
40% Increased Attack Speed
+209% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
-25% Target's Defense
20% Bonus to Attack Rating
6% Life Stolen Per Hit
33% Deadly Strike
66% Chance of Open Wounds
Prevent Monster Heal
+5 to Frenzy (Barbarian only)
ITD helps shuriken, OW is just great (as is PMH). If this had better ED and CB, it would be golden.

Malice: BF 1.5, DT 1
100% chance of Open Wounds
-100 to Monster Defense Per Hit
Prevent Monster Heal
-25% Target Defense
Drain Life -5
+33% Enhanced Damage
+50 to Attack Rating
+9 to Maximum Damage
This one's kind of cute. I like it for the -monster defense on hit and -25% monster base defense. Your shurike will hit, but they won't do any damage. If you wanted to go for a themed poison-heavy/OW build though, it might work.

Steel: BF 1, DT 1
+2 to Mana After Each Kill
50% Chance of Open Wounds
+1 Light Radius
+20% Enhanced Damage
+50 to Attack Rating
+3 to Minimum Damage
+3 to Maximum Damage
25% Increased Attack Speed
Another nice low level option.

Strength: BF 1, DT 1.5
+35% Damage
25% Chance of Crushing Blow
7% Life Stolen Per Hit
+2 Mana After Each Kill
+10 Vitality
+20 Strength
CB is the key to PvM - as such this ain't bad! Also, +20 to Strength can be very helpful!
 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
813
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Butcher's Pupil: BF 1.5, DT 1
Cleaver
Indestructible
35% Deadly Strike
25% Open Wounds
+150-200% Enhanced Damage
30% Increased Attack Speed
+30-50 Damage
The handy thing for BF here is the open wounds. It's also reasonably fast.

Deathcleaver: BF 2, DT 1.5
Beserker Axe
Ladder Only
+230-280% Enhanced Damage
66% Deadly Strike
-33% Target's Defense
40% Increased Attack Speed
+6-9 Life After Each Kill
It's fast and has a ton of Deadly Strike to amp your blades. Not terrible, but not amazing.

Executioner's Justice: BF 2, DT 2
Glorious Axe
Ladder Only
+240-290% Enhanced Damage
25% Crushing Blow
-33% Target's Defense
50% Chance To Cast slvl 6 Decrepify When You Kill An Enemy
30% Increased Attack Speed
If this thing were one-handed . . . This is actually a great weapon! The CB is decent, the -Enemy Defense helps a TON with your blades, and the 50% chance to cast Decrepify on kills can make for a ton of fun.

Goreshovel: BF 1, DT 1.5
Broad Axe
30% Increased Attack Speed
+42% Enhanced Damage
+9 to Maximum Damage
60% Chance of Open Wounds
+25 to Strength
Important thing here is the +25 Strength and 60% OW. Meh - not terrible.

Humongous: BF 1.5, DT 1.5
Giant Axe
+101% Enhanced Damage
Adds 8-17 Damage
33% Chance of Crushing Blow
+21 to Strength
Requirements +20%
It's a bit of a stretch, but the Strength and CB are decent.

Lacerator: BF 2, DT 2
Winged Axe
150-210% Enhanced Damage
30% Increased Attack Speed
33% Open Wounds
Prevent Monster Heal
Hit Causes Monster to Flee 50%
33% Chance to Cast Slvl 3 Amplify Damage on Striking
Replenishes Quantity (1 in 4 Seconds)
This is a very respectable and groovy choice - especially if you can get your hands on an ethereal one. Amp Damage is sweet, the Hit Causes Flee will actually help sow confusion, and 33% OW is, as always, tasty.

Razoredge: BF 2, DT 2
Tomahawk
+175-225% Enhanced Damage
40% Increased Attack Speed
-33% Target's Defense
50% Deadly Strike
50% Open Wounds
Fast, 50% Deadly for blades, 50% OW, and -33% enemy defense to help your shuriken hit. Wow - this is actually quite a tasty choice - even better than Deathcleaver, its big brother.

The Gnasher: BF 1, DT 2
Hand Axe
+68% Enhanced Damage
+30 To Attack Rating
20% Chance Of Crushing Blow
50% Chance Of Open Wounds
Yep yep, the low-level weapons can shine on a kicker! Okay, so your blades will be worthless (no base damage to speak of), but your kicks will get a healthy 20% CB and 50% OW! For a low-level warrior-monk, this almost can't be beaten.

Minotaur: BF 1.5, DT 2
Ancient Axe
Hit Blinds Target +2
Half Freeze Duration
+15-20 to Strength
Slows Target by 50%
30% Crushing Blow
+20-30 Damage
+140-200% Enhanced Damage
Oooooh. +Strength, slows target, 30% CB . . . if it were just one-handed!

The Scalper: BF 1.5, DT 1.5
Francisca
+150-200% Enhanced Damage
33% Chance of Open Wounds
+4 to Mana After Each Kill
20% Increased Attack Speed
25% Bonus to Attack Rating
4-6% Life Stolen Per Hit
Replenishes Quantity (1 in 3 sec)
Not bad at all. The AR boost helps your blades and the OW helps your kicks and blades. Find an eth one to make it worth your while, and up it if you can.

Gutsiphon: BF 1, DT 1
Demon Crossbow
+160-220% Enhanced Damage
Piercing Attack (33)
12-18% Life Stolen Per Hit
Slows Target by 25%
33% Open Wounds
Well, the OW and Slow don't make it TOTALLY suck . . .

Fleshripper: BF 3, DT 3
Fanged Knife
+200-300% Enhanced Damage
-50% Target's Defense
Prevent Monster Heal
25% Crushing Blow
50% Open Wounds
33% Deadly Strike
Slows Target by 20%
This may be one of the best options available after Last Wish. 25% CB, 50% OW, 33% Deadly, slows target . . . this is just disgusting! The -50% target defense will also mean your blades will hit a respectable amount of the time. Plus, check out the speed . . . and it looks sexy too!

Bloodrise: BF 1, DT 1.5
Morning Star
10% Increased Attack Speed
+120% Enhanced Damage
50% Bonus to Attack Rating
5% Life Stolen Per Hit
25% Chance of Open Wounds
+2 to Light Radius
150% Damage to Undead
+3 to Sacrifice
Hey hey! A low-level duelers dream - 50% bonus to AR and 25% OW. Not a bad low-level choice.

Bloodtree Stump: BF 2, DT 2
War Club
50% Crushing Blow
+180-220% Enhanced Damage
Resist All +20
+25 to Strength
+2 To Masteries (Barbarian Only)
+3 To Mace Masteries (Barbarian Only)
+40 Durability
Now we're talking - resists and +25 to Strength with 50% CB. Yowsa

Bonesnap: BF 2, DT 2
Maul
+200-300% Enhanced Damage
50-200% Damage to Undead
40% Chance of Crushing Blow
Cold Resist +30%
Fire Resist +30%
Same here - so sexy.

Crushflange: BF 1, DT 1.5
Mace
+56% Enhanced Damage
33% Chance of Crushing Blow
Knockback
+15 to Strength
Fire Resist +50%
+2 to Light Radius
150% Damage to Undead
This one's actually a real help - check out the surprising +15 to Strength. Very handy, that.

Earthshifter: BF 2, DT 2
Thunder Maul
250-300% Enhanced Damage
+50% Damage to Undead
+7 to Elemental Skills (Druid Only)
25% Chance to Cast Slvl 14 Fissure on Striking
10% Increased Attack Speed
33% Crushing Blow
10% Faster Cast Rate
Slvl 14 Volcano (30 Charges)
Crushing blow and big damage recommend this one. The fissure on strike might get annoying though.

Fleshrender: BF 1.5, DT 2
Barbed Club
25% Open Wounds
20% Crushing Blow
20% Deadly Strike
Prevent Monster Heal
Adds 35-50 Damage
+130-200% Enhanced Damage
+1 to All Druid Skills
+20 Durability
+2 To Shape Shifting Skills (Druid Only)
Crushing, Deadly, OW, PMH . . . if it did more damage, this might make the end-game selection.

Horizon's Tornado: BF 2, DT 1.5
Scourge
230-280% Enhanced Damage
+50% Damage vs. Undead
50% Increased Attack Speed
Slows Target by 20%
20% Chance to Cast Slvl 15 Tornado on striking
Requirements -20%
Hoo-ah. Fast and slows it's target, casts a helpful Tornado on occaision. Not bad.

Schaefer's Hammer: BF 2.5, DT 2
Legendary Mallet
Indestructible
20% Chance to Cast Slvl 10 Static Field on Striking
20% Increased Attack Speed
+104% Enhanced Damage
+X to Maximum Damage (Based on Clvl, 198 Max)
+X to Attack Rating (Based on Clvl, 792 Max)
Adds 50-200 Lightning Damage
+50 to Life
Lightning Resist +75%
+1 to Light Radius
150% Damage to Undead
Ah-ha! Now we're talking! This will do nice BF damage and the Static Field will cut enemies down to size. A pity there's no CB on this bad boy.

Stonecrusher: BF 2, DT 2
Legendary Mallet
280-320% Enhanced Damage
Adds 10-30 Damage
+50% Damage vs. Undead
-25% Target's Defense
40% Crushing Blow
-100 to Monster Defense Per Hit
+20-30 to Strength
CB, -Target Defense, +Strength. This is a nice little package for a Warrior-Monk.

Stormlash: BF 3, DT 3
Scourge
240-300% Enhanced Damage
+50% Damage vs. Undead
Adds 1-473 Lightning Damage
30% Increased Attack Speed
33% Crushing Blow
20% Chance to Cast Slvl 18 Tornado on Striking
15% Chance to Cast Slvl 10 Static Field on Striking
Absorb Lightning +3-9
Another of the truly elite choices. Static Field, CB, good elemental damage, speed, and CB make this bad boy a truly fantastic weapon. Ouch!

The Cranium Basher: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
Thunder Maul
Indestructible
+200-240% Enhanced Damage
Adds 20-30 Damage
150% Damage to Undead
75% Chance of Crushing Blow
4% Chance to Cast Slvl 1 Amplify Damage On Attack
20% Increased Attack Speed
All Resistances +25
+25 to Strength
Look at the Crushing Blow . . . genius. Amp Damage on attack is just gravy. Youch.

Windhammer: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
Ogre Maul
180-230% Enhanced Damage
50% Crushing Blow
60% Increased Attack Speed
33% Chance to Cast slvl 22 Twister on Striking
+50% Damage vs. Undead
This thing deserves more respect. You'll find that in melee combat those Twisters stunning your opponents will lock up groups much more effectively than you might expect.

Immortal King's Stone Crusher: BF 2.5, DT 2.5
Ogre Maul
Indestructible
40% Increased Attack Speed
+200 Damage vs. Demons
+200 Damage vs. Undead
35-40% Crushing Blow
+200% Enhanced Damage
Adds 211-397 Fire Damage (2 Items)
Adds 7-477 Lightning Damage (3 Items)
Adds 127-364 Cold Damage (4 Items)
Cold Duration: 6 Seconds
Adds 349 Poison Damage Over 6 Seconds (5 Items)
Adds 250-361 Magic Damage (Full Set)
Socketed (2)
What a GREAT WEAPON! Speed, CB, and if you couple it with gloves and belt, some nice fat elemental damage for immunes! Plus you LOOK cool as hell! Socket some Shaels for even more speed and then go ahead and max Fade - you won't need IAS on any of your equipment!

Bonehew: BF 2, DT 1.5
Ogre Axe
270-320% Enhanced Damage
Slvl 14 Corpse Explosion (30 Charges)
Prevent Monster Heal
30% Increased Attack Speed
50% Chance to Cast Level 16 Bone Spear on Striking
Socketed (2)
This one I included for style points. A kicker who fires off multiple Bone Spears per kick is just . . . cool.

The Grim Reaper: BF 1.5, DT 1
War Scythe
+20% Enhanced Damage
+15 to Maximum Damage
5% Mana Stolen Per Hit
100% Deadly Strike
Prevent Monster Heal
Deadly Strike makes this not a terrible choice at low levels. Your blades will hurt, but your kicks won't get anything from this one.

The Reaper's Toll: BF 2, DT 1
Thresher
Ladder Only
+190-240% Enhanced Damage
33% Chance to Cast slvl 1 Decrepify On Striking
Ignore Target's Defense
11-15% Life Stolen Per Hit
Requirements -25%
33% Deadly Strike
Adds 4-44 Cold Damage
Ooooh, Decrepify on hit and ITD coupled with Deadly Strike! This is for the blade-hurlers - it won't do much for your kicks.

Astreon's Iron Wand: BF 2, DT 2
Caduceus
240-290% Enhanced Damage
Adds 40-85 Damage
33% Crushing Blow
Slows Target by 25%
Damage Reduced by 4-7
+2-4 to Combat Skills (Paladin Only)
10% Increased Attack Speed
150-200% Bonus to Attack Rating
CB, slows target, and a big fat AR boost. Hrm . . . not too shabby!

Heaven's Light: BF 2, DT 2
Mighty Scepter
Ladder Only
+2-3 to Paladin Skill Levels
20% Increased Attack Speed
250-300% Enhanced Damage
-33% Target Defense
33% Chance of Crushing Blow
+15-20 Life After Each Demon Kill
+3 To Light Radius
+50% Damage vs. Undead
Socketed(1-2)
Ahhhhh, now this would be nice but not incredible without those sockets. With them, it's foxy.

Arioc's Needle: BF 2, DT 1.5
Hyperion Spear
+2-4 to All Skills
+30% Increased Attack Speed
+180-230% Enhanced Damage
Ignore Target's Defense
+394 Poison Damage Over 10 Seconds
50% Deadly Strike
Not bad. ITD, extra poison damage, Deadly and good base damage make this a reasonable choice for a thrower.

Bloodthief: BF 1, DT 1
Brandistock
+70% Enhanced Damage
9% Life Stolen Per Hit
35% Chance of Open Wounds
+10 to Strength
+26 to Life
OW, +Strength. A decent low level choice.

Hone Sundan: BF 2, DT 2
Yari
Adds 20-40 Damage
45% Crushing Blow
Repairs 1 Durability in 10 Seconds
+160-200% Enhanced Damage
Socketed (3)
Deserves some respect for its sockets and 45% CB. Throw in 3 Bers and you'll almost have max CB!

Steel Pillar: BF 2, DT 2
War Pike
Indestructible
210-260% Enhanced Damage
25% Chance of Crushing Blow
-20% Target's Defense
25% Increased Attack Speed
50-80% Enhanced Defense

Ribcracker: BF 2, DT 2
Quarterstaff
Adds 30-65 Damage
200-300% Enhanced Damage
50% Crushing Blow
+100 Defense
100% Enhanced Defense
50% Faster Hit Recovery
50% Increased Attack Speed
+100 Durability
Wow. I love this weapon. Up one and you'll have a true warrior-monk, Hong Kong action-flick style.

Bloodmoon: BF 1.5, DT 1
Elegant Blade
210-250% Enhanced Damage
10-15% Life Stolen Per Hit
50% Open Wounds
+7-13 Life After Each Kill
slvl 15 Blood Golem (9 Charges)
OW is the only thing worth mentioning here.

Blood Crescent: BF 1, DT 1
Scimitar
15% Increased Attack Speed
+69% Enhanced Damage
15% Life Stolen Per Hit
33% Chance of Open Wounds
+15 to Life
All Resistances +15
+4 to Light Radius
OW again. Meh.

Coldsteel Eye: BF 1.5, DT 1
Cutlass
Hit Blinds Target
Target Slowed by 30%
50% Deadly Strike
+50 Durability
+200-250% Enhanced Damage
20% Increased Attack Speed
6% Mana Stolen Per Hit
Deadly and Slow make this a decent Blade Fury weapon.

Headstriker: BF 2, DT 1
Battle Sword
Prevent Monster Heal
+15 to Strength
1.5% Per Level Deadly Strike
Adds 1 Damage Per Level
+150% Enhanced Damage
Deadly and plus to damage/strength. Not a bad one - it's also looks like a shining white lightsaber.

Ripsaw: BF 1, DT 1
Flamberge
+80% Enhanced Damage
+15 to Maximum Damage
6% Mana Stolen Per Hit
80% Chance of Open Wounds
OW. Not much else.

Bul Katho's Sacred Charge: BF 2, DT 2
Colossus Blade
Knockback
Base Weapon Speed: [5]
35% Crushing Blow
Resist All +20
20% Increased Attack Speed
200% Enhanced Damage
Crushing Blow and Res all, plus decent damage.

Clegaw's Tooth: BF 1.5, DT 1
Long Sword
30% Bonus to Attack Rating
50% Deadly Strike
+1.25 Damage Per Level (2 Items)
A great low-level blade weapon.

Death's Web: BF 2, DT 2
Unearthed Wand
+50% Damage vs. Undead
Enemy Poison Resistance -40 to -50%
+7-12 to Mana After Each Kill
+7-12 to Life After Each Kill
+2 to All Skills
+1-2 to Poison and Bone Skills (Necromancer Only)
Very respectable weapon for it's capacity to cut the resists of your enemies in half. Couple with Trang Oul's if you really like poison, and watch your enemies turn sickly and collapse at your feet.
 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
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ARMOR:
Fortitude/Duress/Chains of Honor

This is simply fantastic armor. First of all, a good spawn can have up to +30% resist all - a fantastic help in Hell. More important, of course, is the modifier all the Bowazons love: +300% enhanced damage. Much like the enhanced damage on Phoenix, this will apply to both kick and shuriken damage, making you even more deadly in melee and at range. The level-dependent life bonus is likewise handy in melee as a protective measure. Finally, not to be forgotten, there's the 20% chance to cast a level 15 Chilling Armor effect on hit. This is a 115% boost in defense, and when cast on a high-defense character can make for a very solid improvement in protection.

For uber-hunting Chains of Honor outclasses Fortitude for several reasons. First of all there's the fantastic resists, which make any uber-hunter smile in anticipation of Mephisto's impending doom. The second thing is you don't lose much damage at all; the fact is that even though the LCS (Lying Character Screen) doesn't display it, your damage will actually be close to what it would be with Fortitude against demons. Why? +200% Enhanced Damage to Demons, that's why!

Duress is sweet for the Crushing Blow (15%), Open Wounds (33%), resists, 20% enhanced damage, and . . . 40% faster hit recovery! That last mod is a truly nice one for duelers, and especially since CB doesn't work as well as OW in PvP this may be the armor of choice for many.

For low-levels, consider Rattlecage for the CB. It looks silly, though - sigh!

GLOVES:
Trang Oul's Claws/IK Gloves/+2 MA Crafted/Laying of Hands/Soul Drainers/Dracul's Grasp

There are a lot of options here, and all of them have their uses. The +25% to poison skill damage is actually applied to your skill twice: once when you cast Venom and then once more when you hit an opponent. This makes your skill so much more effective it's ridiculous, and given that Venom damage applies to both your kicks and your shuriken it will make your character very well-rounded. They also have another, 'hidden' bonus: a 30% faster cast rate. Though for most non-Necromancer poison-skill characters this modifier means next to nothing, an Assassin can benefit greatly from this as it improves the rate at which she can cast Mind Blasts. The 30% here ups the cast rate on Mind Blast to 13 frames from 16 frames. With another 12% faster cast you'll easily hit 12.

Another option is, of course, +2 to Martial Arts gloves; however, as the bonus to damage from extra levels of Dragon Talon is, at best, marginal (+7% per level), this is a questionable choice. Chances are you'll be able to get enough +skills gear to hit level 24 or 30 in Dragon Talon without too much effort. If you have a nice pair of blood gloves with some IAS on them, though, these can truly shine!

Dracul's Grasp will up your chance to cast Life Tap and give you the incredibly handy (especially against the uber three!) Open Wounds modifier. Also, if you can't afford a Last Wish, Dracul's will be almost obligatory in Hell. You could also go with Soul Drainers for the dual leech, minus to enemy defense on hit, and CTC Weaken on striking, but keep in mind that this curse will override the Life Tap cast by Last Wish; something that can easily get you killed.

Finally there's Laying of Hands, the set gloves from the Disciple set. These gloves are GREAT for uber-hunting! +350% Enhanced Damage to Demons will make those kicks of yours hit the uber-three with the released power of a siege engine! Plus, with Life Tap covered by your Last Wish, you can have your cake and eat it too - survivability with hard-core butt-kicking potential.

SHIELD:
Phoenix Monarch/Stormshield/Tiamat's/4-Socket P-Facet Monarch

This may not seem optimal as a shield at first. It lacks two important shield modifiers: increased chance to block and resists. However, it does have two modifiers which will prove invaluable: 350-400% enhanced damage and a level 13 Redemption aura. Unlike base weapon damage, non-weapon enchanced damage does affect kicks, meaning that the Phoenix will drastically improve your melee effectiveness. It will also affect your weapon's overall damage, which means your shuriken will hurt your enemies more. The Redemption is also amazingly handy: when things die, their bodies will convert into more mana and life for you. This will mean you'll need no mana leech to be self-sufficient in Hell, and furthermore the bodies of enemies which can be resurrected will evaporate, providing an added benefit. It does not, however, do you any good in uber-tristram, since the monsters there leave no corpses. Finally, it looks amazing - not only does a runeword monarch shield look great (as it's darker than normal shields), but Redemption is probably the coolest-looking aura in the game.

There is another problem with this shield, however, and it is one that only emerges at higher levels: a 25% CTC a level 22 Firestorm on hit. This sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong. Blizzard has once again made something that works badly by coding it but not playtesting it. If you put a Phoenix shield on your kicker you'll notice something odd happen. As your Firestorm is cast, all of a sudden your active skills will go red for a moment. Why? Because Firestorm has a casting delay timer, meaning it is an unspammable spell. You'd think this would only affect you if you were actually casting Firestorm, but no, Blizzard didn't fix this for CTC items. In other words, it uses the exact same animation as for the Druid, and while it runs this animation freezes your Assassin's skills for a moment as well.
This can slow down your shuriken quite a bit, proving extremely annoying; the thing about Blade Fury is that once you stop for the casting animation of Firestorm, you then have to 'assume the position' again. Every time you chuck a shuriken, you first go, in slow-motion, into a 'blade-chucking stance' before throwing your first blade. When you have to repeat this stance in the middle of a blade stream, you lose a lot of time, a lot of blades and, unfortunately, a lot of damage as a result. An odd thing is, however, that it DOESN'T seem to slow down your kicks at ALL - go figure!

Overall, my suggestion is to use this shield if you find that you like it. It takes some getting used to though, and I wanted to warn any players before they tried it out. Other options are numerous and obvious: Stormshield for DR and block, Whistan's Round for resists, Tiamat's Rebuke for a little more elemental damage, etc. One final option (which is a very nice one, in my opinion) is to get a monarch, 4-socket it with Larzuk's quest reward, and plug in as many Poison Facets as you can get your hands on. Combined with Trang Oul's Claws and Death's Web, this makes your Venom sting!

HELM:
Guillaume's Face/Crown of Ages/Delerium/Kira's/Tal Rasha's/Giantskull

There are several great options here. The first, Guillaume's Face, is a very cheap but very powerful helm. It offers no bonuses to skills and no resists, it's true; it does, however, provide one of the most critical melee modifiers in the entire game: 35% Crushing Blow. If the Last Wish you're wielding has 60% CB, the lowest possible spawn, this will be enough to take it to maximum effectiveness: 95%. If not, it's only a little overkill, especially considering that you'll be taking away a quarter of your target's life in addition to your raw kick damage with every hit. There is also some Deadly Strike and Open Wounds on this helm, the first of which will only transfer to your shuriken and the second of which will be conveyed by both your attacks; in any case, they will both enhance your killing power. Finally, Guillaume's Face grants a +15 bonus to Strength, which can help your character meet gear requirements (the 208 required to wear myrmidon greaves other than Gores or Shadowdancers, for instance) more easily.

The Crown of Ages is the more expensive, but perhaps almost as effective, option for this build. The key here is a 3 socket spawn into which you can place Um for even more resistances or Ber runes to add damage resistance (8% per rune up to a maximum of 24%). This can be key when you're avoiding using Fade - a 2 Ber CoA plus a Stormshield can easily put you at 50% damage reduction. The Crown also has the advantage of offering a plus to skills and very significant resists, a modifier that cannot be overlooked in Hell. If you have the means to afford it, this helm may tie Guillaume's for PvP; it is, however, a far more expensive option.

Kira's Guardian can be another nice option, especially if you use Burst of Speed as your main aura. It provides huge resists and some faster hit recovery, which can be very handy if you plan on dueling or running the ubers.

Tal Rasha's is a helm I feel gets overlooked too frequently. 15% resist all, a healthy bonus to life, and 10% dual leech are the three modifiers that make it shine.

A Giantskull, apart from looking great on an Assassin, has knockback - a modifier that can really help you keep the pressure off as it is carried by shuriken (though you don't need it on Dragon Talon, which has its own built-in knockback effect). It also can have up to three open sockets, allowing you to effectively customize it to suit your preferences: Bers for damage resistance, Ums for more resists, 15% IAS jewels to make up for speed if you use Fade instead of Burst of Speed, etc. As your strength will have to be very high to use the best boots possible (208), you should have no trouble equipping this helm - something that's often a problem for other classes.

A cheap early-level option is Biggin's Bonnet. It is often overlooked, but this helm has +30% enhanced damage, making it very handy when you have a decent pair of boots. Other options should include any decent helm with + Strength, good resists, and damage reduction.

BOOTS:
Shadow Dancers/Rare Mymidon Greaves/Upped Gore Riders

The best (and, as always, most expensive) option here is a pair of Shadowdancers, the unique ladder-only myrmidon greaves. These offer several indispensible modifiers, including a +1~2 to all Shadow Disciplines, 30% faster hit recovery, +15~25 Dexterity, and a 30% faster run/walk speed. Plus they have a lower Strength requirement than a pair of rare myrmidon greaves - only 167 instead of 208. If you can't afford a pair you can hunt up a pair of non-magical myrmidon greaves for Charsi to imbue. The modifiers to look for are faster run/walk, resistances, and possibly (if you're very lucky) faster hit recovery.

Finally you can search for or make a pair of upped Gore Riders using the cube recipie (Ko Rune+Lem Rune+Perfect Diamond+Exceptional Unique Armor = Elite Unique Armor). These will give you the Crushing Blow you need to come close to 95% without using Guillaume's and will also offer Open Wounds and Deadly Strike, both of which can be used to excellent effect with your main two skills (Dragon Talon and Blade Fury). Keep in mind that this only works on-ladder, though. Also, these are almost obligatory if you're going without the Last Wish, since you'll need more Crushing Blow to hit maximum efficiency.

You can also try crafting a pair of Safety Boots out of myrmidon greaves (Plate Boots+Jewel+Ort Rune+Perfect Emerald = Safety Boots: Damage Reduced by 1-4, Magic Damage Reduced by 1-2, Enhanced Defense +10-30%, Fire Resist +5-10%), but since the set modifiers are not all that impressive you might have to make several pairs before getting some other decent qualities.

Please note that it is incredibly important that whatever your footwear, the base boot type is myrmidon greaves. The base damage dealt by a kick is directly based on the boot type, making myrmidon greaves the only real choice. To demonstrate, here are the basic boot damages (thanks, as always, to jrichard):

Name mindam maxdam StrBonus
Leather Boots 3 8 120
Heavy Boots 4 10 120
Chain Boots 6 12 120
Light Plate Boots 8 16 120
Plate Boots 10 20 120
Demonhide Boots 26 46 120
Sharkskin Boots 28 50 120
Mesh Boots 23 52 120
Battle Boots 37 64 120
War Boots 39 80 120
Wyrmhide Boots 65 100 120
Scarabshell Boots 60 110 120
Boneweave Boots 69 118 120
Mirrored Boots 50 145 120
Myrmidon Greaves 83 149 120

AMULET:
Mara's Kaleisdescope/Highlord's Wrath

Mara's is my favorite choice for this build. With a +5 to all attributes, a +20~30% to all resistances, and a +2 to skills it is a truly lovely piece of equipment. However, it can be outshone by a crafted amulet, some of which can spawn with very nice attribute bonuses, a +2 to Assassin skills, a bonus to all resistances, etc.

Highlord's Wrath I include for those Assassins who choose to forgo using Burst of Speed in favor of Fade. Not only does include a 20% IAS bonus (which is necessary for those Assassins who need the extra speed to hit the 8/3 or 7/3 kick breakpoint), but also a +1 to all skills, +35% bonus to resist lightning, and a +0.375% per level Deadly Strike modifier. The Deadly Strike, when used in conjunction with Guillarme's or upped Gore Riders, can make for some very dangerous shuriken.

For IAS purposes you could also choose to go with the Cat's Eye amulet, which also provides faster run/walk (always helpful in escaping a dangerous pack). Also worthy of mention (especially for those devoted to Burst of Speed) is the very sexy Atma's Scarab, which has a 5% chance to cast a level 2 Amplify Damage curse on enemies, making it a very dangerous addition to both your kicks and shuriken. The problem with this being, of course, that it has the potential to override Life Tap in very crucial situations - ones where your Assassin's life is dependant on the leech offered by Life Tap.

RING 1:
Ravensfrost

The classic. This will add 20 points to your character's effective Dexterity, helping her meet gear requirements more easily, a ton of Attack Rating, and the all-important 'Cannot Be Frozen' modifier. If you choose to use Trang Oul's Girth for a belt, however, you will all ready have this necessity covered, and can choose to select a different ring. The AR alone, on the other hand, is enough to recommend Ravensfrost, especially as your shuriken are dependent on Attack Rating to hit champions and boss monsters.

RING 2:
Bul Kathos/Carrion Wind/Wisp Projector/Rare Ring

No, not the crappy sequel to the movie that ripped off the Japanese classic. :uhhuh:

There are many viable options here. Bul Kathos offers a +1 to skills, life leech, and a bonus to Life - however, as this build is not terribly +skills dependent, this is not as attractive a ring as it is on other melee builds. Carrion Wind comes with life leech and +55% resistance to Poison - both very nice in and of themselves, but the real benefit for a melee character comes from the 8% chance to cast lv. 13 Twisters on striking. Since Dragon Talon is an excellent way to trigger CTC effects, Twisters will be cast quite a bit when you kick, and each Twister released will stun your enemies for 0.4 seconds. This doesn't sound like a lot, but in combat it can make the difference between being mobbed and being comfortably able to handle your enemies. The Wisp Projector is a very nice ring which can make you nearly immune to lightning damage (it has 10~20% absorb). In addition when using it you can summon druidic nature spirits such as Oak Sage and Heart of Wolverine that can add to your life or damage. The drawback to these spirits is that they die quickly in Hell and the charges cost quite a bit to replace; still, you may want to consider Wisp as an option if you are an effective Mind Blaster. Finally, there are always good rare rings out there; modifiers to look for include +Strength, + to resists, CTC effects, etc.

BELT:
Nosferatu's Coil/Verdungoes/Trang Oul's Girth/IK Belt

Nosferatu's Coil is probably my favorite belt in the game. It seems that no matter what character I'm building, Nosferatu's Coil is, for one reason or another, the perfect complement to my equipment. It has 10% IAS, one of it's most notable modifiers, and it slows your enemies 10% as well. Moreover it grants a +15 to your Strength score, helping you easily meet you equipment requirements.

Verdungoes has the favorite melee modifier, damage resistance. Also it has a big bonus to Vitality, making it a tank's dream come true. In combination with a decent level of Fade, this can get you very close to the 50% physical damage reduction cap without much of an effort.

Trang Oul's Girth is an oft-overlooked belt. Although it is often ignored by all but Necromancers, it has several modifiers that are very handy and one which is incredible: 'Cannot Be Frozen.' If you are desperate to swap out Ravensfrost for another ring but can't afford to lose the immunity to turning blue, this belt is your friend. It also doesn't hurt that it has a significant bonus to life and mana.

The IK Belt, in the end, has proven to be the BEST belt for this build. The reasons are simple: +25 strength, +28% fire resist and +31% lightning resist. The stacked resists plus the strength make it incredibly handy for uber-hunting and also a great supplement to save stat points for health.

WEAPON SWITCH/PRE-BUFF:
2 Bartuc's/Hoto+Spirit/CTA+Spirit

This is a place where there are a lot of options. I tend to shy away from using too many items for pre-buffing my character; if you wanted to, however, you could have 2 Stones of Jordan and a Harlequin Crest in your stash to improve your pre-castable skills (Venom, Fade, Burst of Speed). Call to Arms is always nice if you can afford it - it will improve your life, mana, defense, and skill levels immensely; however, having to stop and re-cast your yells does get annoying in PvM play. A cheap and effective option for pre-buffing is a pair of Bartuc's, which will give a total bonus of +4 to your skills. A more expensive option would be Heart of the Oak and a Spirit monarch for a +5.
 

maxicek

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Dec 24, 2019
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CHARMS:
Skill GCs/Annihilus/+life/+max damage/+resist charms

As always an important thing in the charms department is filling in the gaps; using them to shore up what your character lacks. On this character there are not going to be any glaring holes, so you should do whatever seems most useful; if you don't use Fade a lot, get some resistance charms. If you don't have enough +skills gear to hit the lv. 24/30 caps for Dragon Talon kicks, pick up a few Martial Arts Grand Charms. Even more useful, however, will be Shadow Discipline Grand Charms, as they will boost Venom, Fade, and Shadow Master, respectively.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned the Hellfire Torch. There's a reason for this: a Dragon Talon kicker has, barring a 2 fps Strafer, one of the fastest attacks in the game. This means that every time you land a kick there's a 25% chance of casting Diablo's Firestorm, a spell which takes quite a lot of animation to execute. In larger games multiple triggers of this spell can lag a game and even cause it to drop. I do have a 4 fps Zealer who uses a Hellfire and has had no trouble with it whatsoever. Indeed, part of what makes Strafers so dangerous with a Torch is Pierce, which makes it so each of their superfast arrows hits multiple enemies, triggering multiple Firestorms. However, 3 fps is fast enough that many games may have trouble handling it.

Ultimately, it is up to you whether to use this charm; on the up-side it can help you reach the 6-kick lv. 30 breakpoint, up your resists significantly, and boost your attributes. It can also provide a very viable supplemental form of elemental damage, as it does very respectable damage - especially when paired with a Phoenix shield (which lowers enemies fire resists). My kicker is using a torch right now and it's working out fine; in some larger games, however, she does occasionally get herself in trouble.

ATTRIBUTES

Strength

One of the things common to many guides is the admonition never to use too many points on Strength or Dexterity - only enough to use your equipment. I personally ascribe to this principle, especially as I tested the damage: with Fort, Phoenix, and Last Wish, a single point of Strength netted only 2-2 damage. You will need at least 208 to wear Mymidon Greaves (which have the best damage of any boot type), and more can't hurt. With equipment, my Assassin's Strength score is 232; this is just enough to meet the requirement of her Fortitude Sacred Armor (1902 defense). Both the ultimate boots, however, require less Strength as they have a minus to requirements on them: Shadowdancers need only 167 and upped Gores only 156. If you have a lighter base armor and manage to get your hands on a pair of nice boots you can choose to invest only enough (with the bonuses from equipment) to hit the requirements for your footwear. I highly recommend using + Strength gear: IK Belt (+25), Guillaume's (+15), etc.

Dexterity

As on many builds, you only need base Dexterity for this character to be effective. First of all, as you've no doubt heard before, the AR return for Dexterity investment is low - too low to be worth it. Second, there's the fact that Dragon Talon has an absurdly high AR boost built in: +595% at level 24 and +745% at level 30. This is more than enough to cover PvM play, and with the addition of the Angelic's combo enough even to handle PvP needs. Except that for PvP max block is a necessity; however, you'll never achieve it with Phoenix. If you're thinking about PvP even a little bit, you'll need to use Stormshield, and if you use Stormshield, invest enough points into Dexterity to get max block in Hell.

However for PvM only players, you need only enough Dexterity to wear your equipment - usually, given the extra 20 points you get from Ravensfrost, base Dexterity is enough to cover this. Now if you're one of those people who can't live without max block you may have a problem with this build. One of the main complaints about Phoenix is it's abominable lack of block; a factor which means you need ridiculously heavy investment in Dexterity to reach 75% block in Hell. I personally use Mind Blast enough that I find block irrelevant, and I put those points into Vitality instead.

Vitality

Need I say it? Everything else goes here. You'll need every last point. In Hell you should strive to have over 1000 Life - more if possible. Since my PvM Warrior-Monk doesn't have block, I went full Vita and have around 1400 Life.

Energy

Base, nothing more.

MERCENARY

Act 1

I personally like melee mercenaries who will get up close and personal with your enemies, keeping them occupied. There is, however, one item that changes my assessment: Faith. If you have a Faith bow you can equip your merc with, do so by all means. With the speed increase from your merc's Fanaticism you'll be able to hit the 7/3 breakpoint for Dragon Talon kicks without needing Burst of Speed - freeing you to boost your resists and damage resistance with Fade.

Act 2

Everyone's favorite spear-toting pet. If you're using Last Wish, the Offensive (Might aura) merc is a waste. The Blessed Aim merc is likewise unnecessary; Dragon Talon has more than enough enhanced AR to cover you. The Defiance-aura merc, however, can prove useful, especially as you don't have block to cover your defense in melee. Coupled with a high-end Fortitude (with Fortitude's Chilling Armor effect) you can have a nice, solid defense against attackers. The Holy Freeze merc is likewise an excellent choice (of course, if you have a Doom polearm, you can have both the Defiance and Holy Freeze merc rolled into one!) for its ability to slow attackers - very handy when you're up close and personal with them. Throw a Reaper's Toll on one of these guys and you'll end up laughing at how slow your enemies can get.

Act 3

The unwanted, the unused, the forgotten Iron Wolves. You don't see these guys very often for a reason: they're not all that great. There are few aspects of their abilities that are worth mentioning; sure, the ice merc can freeze your enemies, but not half as many as a Holy Freeze merc can. Moreover, they all keel over like sickly puppies when attacked by Hell packs. Pass on these guys.

Act 4

I'll be honest with you: I've never seen the point. Sure, the barbarians are great tanks, but hey - why have a tank without an aura? The Act 2 mercs help you as well as themselves - you both win. The barb just runs about hacking at enemies on his own - nice, but hardly with it.

STRATEGY FOR UBER-TRISTRAM

I've done uber-Tristram about 5 times now, so I am by no means an expert. I know there are people out there who have made a mini-career out of hunting the uber three; I'm not one of them. I do, however, have some solid experience with fighting the new big baddies and can confidently take them every time. This build is perfect for the ubers and was designed to handle them, and I can, from experience, testify that it works.

I have given a lot of optional gear up until now, but for Tristram only a few choices will work. Here's what I use: Guillarmes (15% IAS jewel), Mara's, IK Belt, Laying of Hands, Ravensfrost, Rare Ring (+40 AR, +15 Strength, +30% Lightning Resist, -25% to Poison Duration), Rare Myrmidon Greaves (30% Faster Run/Walk, +7 Dexterity, +35% Fire Resist, +27% Poison Resist, 22% Magic Find - not bad in combo with the Last Wish, I might add!), Last Wish Berserker Axe, Phoenix Monarch, Fortitude Dusk Shroud. I have only one point in Fade, but go to the Frigid Highlands to get beaten on a little bit by Eldritch in order to have Last Wish trigger its level 11 Fade effect. I pre-buff with double Bartuc's and a +2 Assassin skills circlet (although the best would, of course, be a magical +3 shadow skills circlet).

The first thing to do when you exit the portal is simple: run. You don't want to get caught by a mob of baddies right next to the portal in case you die - it will make getting your body next to impossible, and even if you leave and come back you'll often have too much to handle when you enter uber-Tristram. Run for either the top right or top left-hand side of the screen, as those two corners are often relatively free of minions. Casting Cloak of Shadows as you go will help keep the pressure off, as many enemies won't be able to see you.

There are two options for what to do next. The first, and most sound, is to find uber-Baal (usually on the bottom half of Tristram) and kill him off, then locate Diablo and do him in, saving Mephisto for last. The reason? Because uber-Mephisto is your biggest challenge, you want to make sure you can devote your full attention to him. The best way to ensure that you two aren't interrupted is to take out his brothers first. I've gone for Mephisto right off the bat and ended up being caught in a 3-way beat-down, pinballing from one prime evil to the next. I survived a sursprisingly long time, but in the end was just delaying the inevitable.

Your second option, however, is to go straight for uber-Mephi and try to take him out first. But wait, why? Often if you get the right combination of luck and timing you can trap him inside the interior of one of the burning Tristram houses; once there, you'll be relatively free to tango with him without being intruded on by minions or his siblings. He's generated very close to the house in the upper right hand - the one which was, in Diablo (for you old-timers out there), Ogden's Tavern. This can be the best of all possible worlds - with uber-Mephisto isolated, he's much less of a threat (though his Conviction aura still hurts!). It's an all-or-nothing gamble, however; if you don't catch him just right, you're in trouble.

As far as the mechanics of the actual fight, things are relatively simple: run up and start kicking - don't stop till he's dead. You should cast Life Tap relatively quickly, and after that you'll be set for the long haul - nothing should be able to kill you in one hit. An important skill to remember with boss fights is Cloak of Shadows; even at low levels this can make your life far easier against bosses by upping your own defense while making them easier to hit. If you've played your character enough to get her to a level at which you feel comfortable fighting the uber three, chances are you'll be pretty comfortable with the mechanics of Dragon Talon. Nonetheless, it's worth mentioning that Dragon Talon causes knockback. Knockback, while often very handy, can be obnoxious when you're fighting the uber three; if you kick Mephi around too much, you might end up kicking him into an area with a bunch of minions - or even (if you haven't all ready taken care of them) one of his brothers.

Strategically speaking, this means you want to trap every big enemy somewhere you can't kick them out of - namely, a corner. Fortunately there are plenty of these in Tristram - look for empty houses (as I said before, it's often easy to catch Mephisto in the remains of the Tavern, but the other two can be a bit harder to corner). If you can't lure your enemy into a house, try to force them up against the outside wall of a house or into one of the corners between the walls that surround Tristram. Once they're there, you can juggle them Streetfighter style up against the wall - it's very satisfying. If you can't trap the boss against a wall, in a house, or in a corner, you can always sandwich him between you and a party-member - bat him back and forth like a couple of cats with a mouse.

A word on party-play: it's worth it. A lot of folks want to solo the uber three, and with the right combination of gear, careful character planning and cautious play-style, this build can take Tristram alone. I do not recommend, however, that any build go it alone - play with friends! I say this for several reasons. First, I fail to see the point of playing online without hanging with friends - otherwise you could just play single player. Second, uber-Tristram is the kind of place where backup, if not necessary, is a wonderful thing. Even the most elite character with the best gear can mess up and get taken by the ubers; they're designed as a challenge for all the people who've been creating characters that are beyond the scope of the original game. I used to play back when the game came out, and back then Baranar's Star was an end-game weapon! Nowadays it's garbage to most serious players, and the ubers were created to present a challenge to this new caste of Grief-smiters, Hammerdins, Beast/Ebotd Whirlers, LS Zons, Faith Strafers, Skellimancers, Blizzard Sorcs, etc.

With backup you ensure you won't end up losing your charm. If a character dies they can leave the game and come back, fully equipped, to help. Moreover, a party is more than the sum of its individual parts: throw Fanaticism on this build and look out! Salvation can save even the weakest character from Mephisto's Conviction, and a Necromancer's summons make for a fantastic meat-shield so you can keep the pressure off while you deal with the big baddies. Find some people you know you can trust; if you can't, then convince some of your friends to start playing D2 (I know I have!).

HOTKEYS

Everyone has their own preferences here; these are mine:
A = Dragon Talon
S = Blade Fury
D = Shadow Master
Z = Fade
X = Cloak of Shadows
C = Mind Blast

DUELING OPTIONS

If you're planning to duel with this build there are a couple of modifications you'll want to make. First of all, switch out Last Wish for Death's Web for the huge penalty to enemy poison resists. Next, you'll want to choose a shield that has better blocking - Stormshield is the obvious choice for the nice damage reduction + blocking combo. You'll also need to invest more in Dexterity in order to acieve max block, so it may be worth your while to wear two Ravensfrost's and a Cat's Eye. Third, you either have to use Dragon Flight or wear Enigma - one or the other, but a dueler without a Teleport-style move is DBA: dead before arrival.

A note on faster hit recovery - most duelers need it desperately. If you get hit by a fast attack you need to recover ASAP so as to avoid stun-lock and death. Fortunately, Shadow Dancers - the best boots for a kicker - come with a built-in 30% faster hit recovery. It is incredibly important, however, to have enough to reach the fastest recovery animation possible without sacrificing too much other gear. With Shadowdancers you'll have a 6 frame recovery, and will need only 18% more to reach the next breakpoint, 5 frames.

Other things which are important: choose your skills to reflect your intentions. Cloak of Shadows, Mind Blast, and Dragon Flight are all skills you will want to seriously consider maxing on a dueler. I haven't played a dueling version of this character yet, but I'm building one soon, and I'll let everyone know how it goes and give some insights as soon as I've had enough experience.
 

maxicek

Moderator
Dec 24, 2019
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Thanks for the informed commentary! So glad to see this little guide isn't dead yet!

Couple of reasons not to go for Kingslayer. Yes, you get more speed; however, the reason for the Last Wish was the 200% enhanced damage from Might. Basic kick damage is not affected by the base damage of a weapon; Might, however, DOES amplify it. Thus with Might you've got an extra 200% on the kicks, and Blade Fury gets the HUGE base damage of Last Wish (+330~375%) AND the Might! My Blade Fury does around 2700 max damage; kicks nearly the same (though the damage shows up wrong on the LCS - it doesn't display Venom damage on kicks, even though it applies).

Another reason is not only does the CTC Life Tap on Last Wish trigger FAR more often than Drac's, but it lasts longer and also covers more area. Finally, not using Drac's frees you up to use Trang Oul's, which amplifies your Venom damage significantly. Also, Kingslayer's Crushing Blow is 30% lower than Last Wish's - and the 95% CB is what makes all the difference on this build. Monsters flatten like insects before the storm of feet you present. Finally, there's the issue of Ignore Target Defense - Kingslayer doesn't have it, and without it your shuriken aren't going to hit very often in hell, sadly. Otherwise it looks like a nice choice!

Thanks for the correction on the helms - I have niether (but want both!). Still, Guillarme's is killer for this build; the Crushing Blow just can't be beaten. Also, thanks for noticing the belts; I've since found another couple. I can't believe I forgot it the first time, but Thundergod's has +20 Strength and makes you very well defended against lightning. Also, the IK belt has some VERY sexy resists which shouldn't be forgotten, in addition to a whopping +25 to Strength.

A couple of research notes: while the 40% CTC level 22 Firestorm does slow down Blade Fury (but not enough to make it worth dropping Phoenix, in my humble opinion), it DOESN'T slow down kicks - go figure! You kick almost at the exact same rate - it's very nice.

Also of note: Grief does add to kick damage, but only AFTER enhanced damage. Thus if you have a +346 damage Grief, you get just that - +346 damage, no more, no less.

Finally, I tried out the build sans-Phoenix (I used Stormshield for the resists, blocking, PDR, and +30 [!!] Strength) and it worked just fine. In fact, it might work better - no interrupting Firestorms, more PDR to help with melee, more resists, etc. You do lose the Redemption aura, though, which I've come to love - no need for mana pots with Phoenix on, ever.

Ah - apropos your Duress idea, it would work well with Kingslayer and Guillarme's - that would get you to where you need to be CB-wise without Last Wish. However, I reccomend Fortitude for the 300% enhanced damage - it makes your blades and feet veeeeery nasty. Also, the Chilling Armor effect is very nice for protecting yourself in melee.

I'll post my stats when I finish my re-build - I'm doing a bit of final tweaking to make my little monk perfect. I'll be sure to post her stats - shouldn't take more than a day or two - Wednesday at the latest.

Thanks again - keep'em coming!