Who am I?
My name is Patrik, though I go under the nickname of C-Beat here on the forums. I’m a Swedish University student who has enjoyed the game of Diablo 2 since it’s release a few years ago. I’ve played several different characters up until now, my first one was a Druid with skill points all over the place. There’s also been Javazons, Bowazons, Bonemancers, Javbarbs, Charged Boltresses, Avengers and so on. It was not until the beta patch for 1.10 that I discovered the Assassin, which quickly turned to be my favorite character.
Why a Dragon Talon/Trapper?
My Dragon Talon/Trapper Assassin is my 3rd Assassin character and also the character I’ve enjoyed most of all, hence this guide. I chose to do this build because it was quite unusual at the time. Dragon Talon had never really been a widely used skill and with the arrival of 1.10 it suddenly became a very interesting asset of the Assassin. The very rapid attack with very few skill points invested really made the skill attractive to me. I chose Traps as secondary skills for two reasons: safety and efficiency. When I started playing I noticed that it wasn’t only efficient but also extremely fun to play! However, as with all characters, there are situations which are very hard to handle.
I should also point out that this guide is mostly aimed at a tweaked character. It’s my opinion that it’s very hard to play untwinked.
Goals of this Guide
I’ve written this guide for several reasons; the first is that I really needed one during my time building my character and others will probably feel the same. The second reason is that I want to convince others to play this build for the sheer fun of it. Diablo have never been this much fun!
Here are a few terms that can be good to know when talking/reading/discussing Assassins.
PvP – Player VS Player
PvM – Player VS Monster
DR – Damage Reduction,
Sin – Assassin
Nec – Necromancer
Barb/baba – Barbarian
Pally – Paladin
Zon – Amazon
Dru – Druid
MDR – Magic damage reduce
R/W – Run/walk
FHR – Faster hit recovery
CBF – Cannot be frozen
Str – Strength
Dex – Dexterity
Nrg – Energy
Vit – Vitality
Clvl – Character level
Slvl – Skill level
FBR – Faster block rate
FPA – Frames per attack
FPS – Frames per second
IAS – Increased Attack Speed
CR – Cold Resist
FR – Fire resist
PR – Poison Resist
LR – Lightning resist
CI – Cold Immune
FI – Fire Immune
LI – Lightning Immune
PI – Physical Immune
DTalon – Dragon Talon
DTail – Dragon Tail
CM – Claw Mastery
SM – Shadow Mastery
SW – Shadow Warrior
CoS – Cloak of Shadow
BoS – Burst of speed
MB – Mind Blast
WB – Weapon Block
LS – Lightning Sentry
DS – Death Sentry
CB – Crushing Blow
OW- Open Wounds
DS – Deadly Strike
CLvL – Character Level
SLvL – Spell Level
C/S – Claw/Shield
C/C – Claw/Claw
Now, enough small talk, let’s get on with it. I will first discuss the skills a Dragon Talon/Trapper can utilize when playing.
First of all, since this is partly a Dragon Talon sin, the most important skill of all is:
18-20 Dragon Talon (The number before the skill name always means how many base points the skill should have)
Dragon Talon is a very interesting skill because it’s one of the fastest attacks in this game. It consists of a rapid series of kicks on a single target. Unlike the Paladin’s Zeal or the Druid’s Fury, Dragon Talon hits the same target with the entire series of kicks. This ability gives it several advantages over, for example, Zeal and Fury because it can make good use of items mods such as “Chance to cast xxx on striking” and most importantly Crushing Blow. But we’ll get to that in the Item section.
Dragon Talon is not a claw attack, it is a kick attack and the damage is therefore calculated from your boots. Elite boots are the best because they have the highest damage. The damage you will deal with each kick will not be very high compared to Zeal or Fury, but it will be a very fast attack which compensates for the low damage, so don’t be scared off by the damage.
Depending on the gear you will eventually use, or the gear you are now using, you should invest either 18 or 20 skill points in Dragon Talon. The reason is that the skill grants one extra kick each 6th slvl. So at slvl 18 it kicks 4 times, at 24 it kicks 5 times and at 30 it kicks 6 times. Now, there is no use in having a 20 base Dtalon and 6 +skills from items, which makes slvl 26 Dtalon, because there are 2 wasted skill points. It is better to leave Dtalon at slvl 18 so that it reaches slvl 24 with items. The difference between slvl 24 and 26 is only a little bit of damage and attack rating, which you most likely wont need.
Another good thing about Dtalon is that elemental damage transfers to your kicks. An elemental damage weapon is therefore a very good resource.
Not to make things too confusing here’s a list of mods that will transfer to your kicks:
– Open Wounds
– Crushing Blow
– Elemental Damage
– Magic Damage
– +X% Enhanced Damage from non-weapon gear
– +X% Life Leech
– +X% Mana Leech
– +X% Chance to cast xxx on striking
Now, these mods does not transfer to your kicks:
– Deadly Strike
– Critical Strike
– + Max Damage
– + Min Damage
– +X% Enhanced Damage from weapon
– +X% Chance to cast on attacking
This is all the skill points you will invest in the Martial Arts tree. Let’s move on.
This tree is your saviour! It has all the skills you will need to survive. How many points you should invest in each skill entirely depends on your equipment so I will only mark a recommended number in the form of x-y.
1 Claw Mastery
This skill has no effect on kicks or traps at all! So, it should be left at slvl 1.
1-5 Burst of Speed.
This skill must be activated for it to be useful. It gives a very nice amount of IAS and fr/w. However, it can not be used in conjunction with Fade. Which you will use depends on your items as well.
This skill must also be used active, just like BoS. Fade gives a ton of resistances against elemental damage as well as it reduces curse duration. So basically, depending on your gear, you will have to choose between BoS(IAS) or Fade (resists) to have activated. You should not use both, instead optimize your gear for either IAS and use fade or optimize it for resist and use BoS. It usually comes down to how many sockets you have, how much IAS and how much resist your gear grants.
Fade has two other nice things to it though. First of all it grants a hidden 1% pdr for each slvl, and it also works with +skills. Secondly fade make your character transparent which is really cool! It has no real effect though.
1-10 Weapon Block
This skill only works if you use c/c (which I will discuss in the item section). If you use c/s then leave it at slvl 1.
This skill gives you the ability to block attacks with your claw. Not only physical melee attacks but also ranged elemental attacks and as magic attacks. I would preferably get this skill to slvl 10 with items, which means 50% block. Less is possible but you want to survive right? My recommendation is 50% because it is a nice round number and it’s certainly enough block to make it through hell.
1 – Shadow Warrior
This is a helper for the assassin. It goes around and uses your skills on her own. She is very useful as a tank rather than a killing machine. However, the Shadow Master is better so leave this one at slvl 1.
1-5 Shadow Master
This is the one you should use. She lays traps and uses MB on her own, she also uses the martial arts tree. Master can take a harder beating than Warrior which makes her a better tank and more suitable for this build.
Some people like to have a strong Master to do their tanking, but I prefer to be able to recast her sometimes and put the skill points in other places. Depending on your amount of +skills I would recommend 1-5 skill points. If you are packed with Shadow Discipline skill charms only 1 point is recommended. If you only have a reasonable amount of +skills then up it to around slvl 5. It’s a matter of taste how much is needed so try her out at slvl 1 first.
1 Cloak of Shadows
This skill blinds targets that have not yet seen you, which makes them stand still and give you the element of surprise. CoS also reduces monsters defence and increases yours. Some people really really find this skill useful, but I really don’t. I tried it once but didn’t find it very good. So try it out…but even if you like it 1 point in it is enough.
0-1 Mind Blast
This skill is very good. It stuns monsters for a short period of time and gives you a safe opportunity to do some kicking.
I have yet not put any points in MB on my own character because my Shadow Master frequently uses MB which means I don’t have too But it does deserve 1 point since it is very useful in some situations.
0 or 20 Venom
This skills is very useful for PvP and a few think it is very useful in PvM as well. When maxed it can deal a great amount of damage per second, but the timer is very short which makes it awful if you want to use a “hit and run” – technique. I would only use this if I’d tried it before and liked it. If you haven’t then leave it a 0. I did.
Now we can move on to the Trap Tree.
Traps are very useful for the high amount of damage they can deal and the versatility they have. You can cast them around corners or in front of you to see if there are any monsters and they are great group killers. They can also kill of enemies on their own if given some time.
20 Death Sentry
This is the must-have in the trap tree. The Corpse Explosion it sets of is the only real group killer you will have. Once there is a corpse, DS takes care of the rest.
Some say it only deserves ~10 points, but as you also will use it as a synergy I recommend maxing it.
1-20 Lightning Sentry
Lightning Sentry deals more damage than DS but doesn’t have the CE. Lightning Sentry is very useful for killing single targets and small groups. This is your secondary skill for bosses and Lightning Immunes.
DS is a synergetic to LS.
1-20 Charged Bolt Sentry
This is where all your leftover points should go. At the end of the game this skill will probably have around 10 points in it. Unless you are leveling very high in which case it might even be maxed.
CBS is mainly as a syngergetic to LS and DS.
I should mention that it is also possible to do a fire trap based character with maxed Death Sentry, Wake of Inferno and the rest in Fireblast. With this route the fire damage will be lower than the lightning damage of LS but the CE from DS is still available. But if your a fire freak it is possible route though not as effective.
That covers the Trap tree and we are ready to head on Where to place your stat points.
How you should place your stat points depends a little bit if you are c/s or c/c. A c/s will probably have a little more dexterity for max block, otherwise it’s mostly the same. Nevertheless I’ll dived the stat allocation into two separate, one for c/s and one for c/c.
Strength – Enough to equip your lowest item with strength bonus. A lot of the items a kicker will use gives huge strength bonus so it can be keep at a reasonable low base. However, you CAN NOT put to little in strength because it is the major damage bonus to your kicks. I would aim for about 200 strength with items which can be achieved with a ~80 base. Depending on what boots you will wear you will not need more than 208 strength. If you want to know how strength affects your kick damage then I can recommend taking a look at this excellent guide to kicking, written by jrichard.
Dexterity – Enough for max block with gear.
Vitality – All the rest! Depending on your gear this number can be as high as 300 or more! The assassin gains 3 hp for each point invested which is quite much life when vitality is in the 300 area.
Energy – You wont need to put any points here. Dtalon will be able to leach enough for your mana problems to be very small.
Strength – Less than C/S. I would go for 79 base as you most likely will use Bartucs which gives a good strength bonus. If not, enough strength to equip the lowest item with strength bonus.
Dexterity – Enough for the lowest item with dexterity bonus. Your attack rating will probably still be good enough.
Vitality – All the rest baby!
Energy – None, same reason as for c/s
That takes care of the statistics. Lets move on the fun part, items!
Claw / Claw or Claw /Shield?
It’s kind of hard for me to decide. I will draw up the pros and cons of both and let you decide.
Claw / Claw:
+ Higher Str/dexterity bonuses -> More life
+ Claw Block which can block elemental attacks
+ More +skills -> more trap damage and attack rating
– Less block for physical attacks
– No elemental damage weapon (can still be kept on switch though)
+ Possibility for more elemental damage
+ Higher block for physical attacks
– Less +skills –> less trap damage
– Less life
I would base the decision on what equipment I had available. For me, the choice is obvious. C/S is really only good if you can afford very expensive weapons and runewords. C/C can provide so many more useful mods, which in my opinion makes it superior. To make the decision easier here comes a list of mod to look for on items.
What to look for
Because this is a hybrid build it is much more difficult to decide what gear to use. You always have to sacrifice something for something else. But in the end you want as much of everything as possible. Here’s a list of mods to look for:
-+Skills. This is very important. It raises your trap damage, your resist or IAS, block, SM, number of kicks, attack rating and kick damage.
-Crushing Blow. This is what makes Dtalon work. Crushing blow is a percentage which transfers to your kicks. If CB is triggered it removes 1/4th of the targets life after the kick damage have been dealt.
For example, lets say we have a monster with 20 000hp. Your kick damage is 1k and lets say you have a 100% chance to hit and your Dtalon does 5 kicks. The first hit does 1k damage and triggers CB, this in turn removes 1/4th of 19k hp, which is 4750 hp. So basically, in 2 kicks you have done almost 6k damage. Imagine if the other kicks also trigger CB and you’ll se how CB is the killer with Dtalon.
Crushing blow will transfer to your kick from all items except your second hand claw. That is, the claw to the right on the screen.
– Increased Attack Speed. This is the 2nd part of Dtalon usefulness. Dtalon can kick as fast as 2fpa! The initial kick is slower and calculated on its own, but the following kicks are very rapid. What determines your kick speed is first the WSM on your weapon (if c/c it’s the WSM of the first claw you equip that counts), then how much IAS you have on your gear. Combine the speed and CB with DTalon and you’ll see that in the example above the 6k damage can dealt in less than half a second!
-Resists. You’ll need resists to survive so its a given. However, remember that you also have a choice between fade and BoS.
-“Chance to cast xxx on striking”. This is a very useful mod with DTalon. Because the attack is so fast even a 5% chance to cast xxx is triggered often. There is also some very useful things that can be cast, such as amplify damage, life tap, high level sorceress spells and so on…
-Strength, Dexterity and Vitality. Always useful. More kick damage and life.
-Life leach and Mana Leach. Helps to stay alive when attacking. Also reduces the use of potions.
Now I’ll discuss a few possible items to use.
In this section I’ll list several items in all categories and explain why they are good or bad and give them a small grade.
Bartucs Cut Throat
This is my claw of choice if you go with c/c. It has almost everything you need: +skills, a massive strength/dexterity bonus, life leach and faster hit recovery. And it’s fast.
This claw may be bad at first glance, but I’ve found out it’s really good! Ok, so it does have less +skill than Bartucs and no strength/dexterity bonus, but the massive resists might enable you to use BoS instead of fade which will save a lot of IAS on the rest of the gear. Jade also takes care of all mana leach problems.
This one is decent. It has IAS, +MA, a nice fire damage bonus and good fire resists.
This one is excellent! It has a lot of CB, life leach and strength. This is a good cheap choice. I recommend using it with a Bartucs for the strength/dexterity and +skills.
These can be very good, however also very rare. Things to look for are fast claws with Quickness mod and sockets. They can completely cover your IAS needs, though cut straight through your budget!
Shako is a very good choice if you don’t need more CB. It has everything else you want. +skills, life, mana, pdr and so on…but I would not give up 35% CB on Guillames for it unless I have lots more in other slots.
This one is also a good option if you don’t need more CB. It has IAS, +skills, strength and ll. However it has drawbacks; -30% fire resist, high clvl requirement.
Crown of the Ages
This one is probably better than both shako and Andariels. It only has +1 skills but the other mods make up for it; strength, resists, pdr, fhr and a possibility of 2 sockets!
Decent option with IAS, dual leach., fhr and magic find.
Good for the 10% dual leach, resists and life/mana.
When it comes to body armors there are many good choices. I will list my favorites below.
Body armors are usually a good space to get resists because armors with 4 sockets can easily get 30% resist all with no cost at all, but for wealthier players armors can give up to 60% resist all if needed.
This one provides +1skills and good resists. It is a cheap and mediocre choice though. There are many better but this is a good armor for poorer players.
Natalyas set armor
This one gives life and +2 Shadow Disciplines which can be useful. It also has some poison resist. The best thing about it though is it comes with 3 sockets. They can be used for whatever need for your particular build. There is no partial set bonus to talk about though.
This one has a great strength bonus and pdr bonus. It’s very expensive though.
This is my favorite and the armor I use. It gives plenty of bonus to dexterity and strength as well as a lot of life. It also grants 30% resist all which is very nice.
Chains of Honor Runeword
This is the absolute best armor for this build. It gives +2skills, good strength, life leach, very good resists and also some magic find. However it is very expensive so don’t plan on getting it aren’t a wealthy player.
This one is good for its +20 strength/vitality and it’s +% to max lightning resist and absorb. High lightning resist and absorb make the game a lot easier in some areas, for example gloams in act 4 and 5.
This one is excellent. +25 strength and great resists to fire and lightning. Useful for those who lacks resists. And its cheap.
String of Ears
Good and relatively cheap choice. Its got life leach and pdr.
This one provides IAS, strength and life leach. 3 very useful mods for this build.
Verdungo’s Hearty Cord
Massive vitality boost and good pdr. Its good if you lack life but its not really that good in my opinion, at least not for the price.
These are great. The have life leach, strength and Chance to Cast slvl 10 Lifetap. Lifetap is a very good asset when kicking in crowds. Lifetap makes you leach more than you will ever need. It fills up your bulb in one kick.
Crafted or Rare gloves
These can be very good. Look for IAS, +MA or SD skills, dexterity, strength, ll and CB.
There are several set gloves with 20 IAS and some other small mods. They are quite useful, though not as good as those mentioned above.
Boots is one of the most important part of the gear since the boots determine the kick damage.
These are the best boots for this build. The elite version has the highest damage of all boot types and Gorerider also comes with crushing blow. This is the boots you will want to get.
These are still useful for the CB, however the kick damage is so low that it starts to get hard killing things in hell. They work very well through nightmare though.
These are the second best pair of boots. They do lach CB, but they still have the same kick damage as Goreriders but they also have dexterity and +Shadow Discipline skills, which is nice.
Rare and Crafted boots
Ideally you want elite boots because they have the highest kick damage. Crafted and rare boots can be really good if they get resists, strength/dexterity and leach.
This is almost a must-have for any build. Luckily it’s very cheap. For this build it adds tons of attack rating which is extremely useful. It also has cant be frozen and 20% cold absorb.
This one is quite good. The life leach is a bit to low though, but the +1skills and life bonus makes up for it. Very expensive though.
Stone of Jordan
This ring isn’t really that useful for this build. All it’s got is +1skills but that isn’t worth one ring slot.
Rare and crafted rings
These can be awesome. Look for life/mana leach, resists and strength/dexterity/life. In 1.10 it is also possible to find dual leach rare rings which is extremely good.
Maras is an excellent choice. The +skills and resists helps both you traps, kicks and survivability. Quite expensive for the average player.
This one’s got IAS, dexterity and fr/w. It’s a good choice it you’re using fade, but with BoS you probably wont need the IAS and sacrificing an amulet slot for dexterity and fr/w is a waste,.
Metalgrid serves one useful purpose, attack rating. It adds several thousands of it. The other mods don’t really help that much. The summon golem charges might be fun, but in hell they wont last long.
These can potentially be the best. However the clvl requirement of great rare amulets is usually 89. Look for +skills, leach, strength/dexterity and life.
This takes care of the item selection part. Lets move on with how you put together your character for best performance.
How to make a “Complete Character”
When I decide to create a new character I always spend hours thinking of how her gear, skills and stats will be before I start playing her. For me, that is the part I enjoy most. In this section I will talk about what to think of when planning your character and how to do it.
The first thing you must do is decide what the characters purpose is. Is it for Magic Finding, PvP or PvM? Do you want it to be able to take on every part of the game on her own or just do certain areas? The question list can be made long…
After you have decided the purpose you need an idea of how big your budget is. With this budget you will trade for (or try to find) the items you will need. You don’t want to plan a character using items you probably wont afford, instead plan her around items you have or can get.
Now, the end goals you want for this build are these:
– Maxed resists in hell.
– 50% crushing blow or more. The more the better.
– Good amount of +skills to raise your trap damage, attack rating and so on.
– Enough IAS for the fastest kick speed.
– Some leech to keep you alive.
– Some mf if that is your purpose.
– Enough fhr to reach a breakpoint.
– Some Open Wounds to prevent monsters heal.
– Ways to deal with all kinds of immunities.
The real trouble is how get all these things on the same time. I usually start off with the most important pieces of the equipment and try to mix together pieces so I achieve the above.
The most important pieces of this build are those that have crushing blow. So, you want to start your gear setup around those kinds of items, for example Goreriders and Guillames Face. After that it’s basically trial and error, but do it on paper. Remember that you also have sockets to use for most of the things you need, specifically IAS and resists.
One of the hardest decisions with this builds is fade or BoS. If you can get maxed attack speed with your gear but not maxed resists, then use fade. If you can get maxed resists but not the fastest attack speed, then use BoS. If you can get both with the same setup then it’s really a matter of taste. I prefer BoS because I like the fr/w, I hate to be ineffective and slow.
Here follows some links to sites where you can find all the tables you need.
Here is the Assassin FAQ which contains answers to the most usual questions about the assassin, but it also has tables for fhr.
Here is a page with tables over how much IAS you will need for different attack speeds with different weapon.
This build really benefits from mercenary. I usually don’t use one because I think they are mostly trouble; they’re expensive to resurrect and they die often. However I decided to try a mercenary out with this build and I’m glad I did.
In my opinion there are 3 choices: Blessed Aim, Might and Holy Freeze.
This mercenary gives you more attack rating which is good, however you will still have good attack rating without it. But if you want a few more % better chance to hit then this is your guy.
This one will boost your kick damage by a few hundred in the end. The damage boost isn’t huge, but some like all the damage they can get. Might also makes it easier for the mercenary himself to stay alive. In my opinion is isn’t the kick damage that kills, it’s the crushing blow. I doubt 200 more kick damage speeds the killing up noticeably.
This is my choice. Holy Freeze makes you and your mercenary safer. It also allows you to get a corpse much faster when you are attacked by multiple monsters.
Play Style and Strategy
In this part I will say a few words on how to play this build.
The basic idea when attacking a crowd is to lay down 1-2 LS and 1- 2 DS. How many depends on the group. The LS will start hurting monsters while the DS waits for a corpse to explode. Your shadow mastery and mercenary will also attack which provides 2 great tanks for you. What you want to do is go at the weakest monster and as fast as possible kill it. With DTalon and CB it usually takes 1 series of kicks. In later hell it might take 2 or 3 though depending on luck, monsters hp and amount of CB. Once there is a body DS will basically take care of the rest. If DS uses all of its CE charges a LS will finish of the job.
If you encounter ranged monsters or really tough ones which you don’t want to melee because they will most likely kill you, you still can handle them with ease. LS will be able to take care of all non LI monsters throughout the whole game. Just use your shadow master as a tank and stay back and cast LS until the monsters are dead. Also use a few DS once there is a corpse.
When you encounter a boss, this build will really shine. Cast your shadow master as your tank in front of the boss then put up 5 LS. Then start kicking away. Crushing blow will remove 2/3 of the bosses life in less than a second. The last part is the toughest because CB wont be able to remove very much life. This is where your kick damage becomes important. You don’t need 2k kick damage to kill bosses though. Your traps will probably do the rest after CB has lost its use. An elemental damage weapon on switch is also a good asset to use in the last parts of the bosses life.
Do remember that your playing for fun, and this build is fun!
Player versus Player
This builds is not meant for PvP but it might still stand a chance. DTalon is a great PvP skill but you will most likely need to change your gear for pdr. LS is also quite useful, however most good PvPers have 85% lightning resist and a good amount of absorbs which will make your traps do little damage. But if you are mostly playing PvM but would like to try PvP you can certainly do that with this build.
This build was to my surprise a good MFer. She might not be able to wear huge amounts of mf, but with a skullders and a shako she can still kill almost as fast. If you only want to mf then I would probably do another build, but this build can still do it very good. Especially Eldritch and Shenk because they are surrounded by monsters. Once there is a corpse DS will take care of the rest. Baal is also quite easy. The only problem is the last wave, but hey…everyone have problem with them. They aren’t LI though so your traps do hurt them quite a bit. It might not be enough though, you will need to separate them and kill one at a time.
I hope this guide as helped you in your quest for a good Dragon Talon/Trap build or has inspired you to make one. I have really enjoyed playing this build and I will continue to do so and I hope you will to.
To finish things off here is the skills, stats and gear of my sin. It might help you and give you some ideas on how to make yours.
D-Beat Clvl 77 (going up)
Str: 197 with items
Dex: 191 with items
Vit: 270 with items
1 BoS, WB, Fade, SM, CoS
Body: Lionheart Great Hauberk
Belt: Thundergods Vigor or String of Ears
Boots: Upgraded Goreriders
Gloves: Dracul’s Grasp
Ring2: Dual leach rare ring with 30%resist fire/lightning/poison
Amulet: Magical +2 assassin skills with strength.
Primary Weapon: Bartucs (shael)
Secondary Weapon: Jade Talons (res all jewel)
Weapon switch: Gimmershred Axe and Whistan Guard shield.
This setup gives me the following: