Tired of dying all day to hard hitting monsters or annoying casters that hit you from two screens away? Sick of not being able to play a build because you can’t ‘afford’ the gear for one? Do you have a life and can’t afford to kill Mephisto for 12 hours a day for items? Tired of guides going on the assumption you will have 2 BOTD weapons and a few extra Enigma armors just lying around? If so…you have come to the right place! Look no further for this is THE place to build an Assassin that will stay ALIVE and will let you have tons of fun while doing it! Simply put, the Ghost will allow you to solo 4/5 of the game, be a great asset to a party, NOT DIE, and all of this can be done for some decently cheap gear. Your goals for your Assassin is to reach about 50% block, get max resists in hell, get as much life as possible, and try to reach 50% DR This guide is geared towards those who are not already very familiar with the assassin (but not necessarily new to the game), but I think would be of help to everyone.
A Ghost is a variant of the Trappasin. A Trappasin uses traps to kill things for her. Well, a Ghost does that too, except she opts to spend a lot more time honing her shadow techniques to ensure maximum chances of survival (hardcore fans rejoice!). While most trappers will invest 70 or more skill points into the Traps tree, a Ghost will invest only between 40 and 50 points in it, and spend the rest of her points in the Shadow Disciplines tree. A Ghost can slip past enemies unseen, blinding them with a Cloak of Shadows. With the enemies blinded and confused, the Ghost has ample time to set up her traps in advantageous positions, or even use the powers of her mind to convert some of the monsters to her side, wrecking further havoc and confusion within the enemy ranks! Ghosts are in the end, stealth characters, relying more on strategy to buy time to set up your traps, or even to lure enemies to you one by one, so you won’t be swarmed! Brute force is NOT the way of the Ghost, and sometimes a strategic retreat will be necessary. All in all, she is a very fun character to play.
This Guide is copyrighted to myself, Tom Liu and no one may post it elsewhere without asking for my permission first. My e-mail is [email protected] if you wish to contact me.
AR: Attack Rating
BoS: Burst of Speed
CBS: Charged Bolt Sentry
C/C: Claw/Claw (dual wield)
CoS: Cloak of Shadows
CM: Claw Mastery
DEF: Defense rating
DR: Damage reduced
DS: Death Sentry
FB: Fire Blast
IAS: Increased Attack Speed
LI: Lightning Immune
LS: Lightning Sentry
MB: Mind Blast
MDR: Magical Damage Reduced
MF: Magic Find
SD: Shadow Discipline Tree
SM: Shadow Master
SW: Shadow Warrior
WB: Weapon Block
This build actually gives you quite a bit of leeway on what to do with your points, whether they be stat or skill points. It really depends on your equipment choices and what you’re comfortable with. Further details below
The motif of a lot of builds these days is to focus on vitality after getting the minimum requires to wear gear and getting enough on block. The philosophy here is, “You can never have enough life.” The Ghost takes this philosophy to heart. This is one of the main reasons the Ghost is a C/C build instead of a C/S build: Block chance is not affected by Dexterity if you are using Weapon block (which only can be used when dual-wielding claws), so all the points saved can go to vitality!
- Str: Enough for gear
- Dex: Enough for gear
- Vit: Everything else
- Energy: Huh? Energy? Who needs energy these days? Big, fat ZERO points here.
Of course exactly how much is enough for gear really depends on your gear, and what charms you have. If you don’t know exactly what gear you’d be using, then I recommend you put 79 points in Dex (enough for Greater Talons) and at least 79 into Str. Having a bit too much str is better than having not enough strength, since small charms can get you up to 20 life (which is almost 7 stat points for you) but can only give you up to 2 strength.
This is how I recommend you distribute your skill points for your Ghost. The number inside the parenthesis indicated what it should be at after +skills from equipment.
Shock Web: 1
CBS: 1 to variable (depends on what level you achieve)
LS: 20 (30+ The more the better)
DS: 20 (30+ The more the better)
WB: Variable (you want to hit at least level 10 after +skills)
SM: 20 (the more the better)
Fade: Variable (shoot for level 20+ after +skills. Less if you think you’re safe enough already)
Psychic Hammer: 1
I will discuss in-depth the skills and the options you have for point placement in a later section.
Ok here are the basics about traps for the beginners.
- Traps such as DS, LS, and CBS are the “Set and Forget” kind of traps. You lay them down, and they lay the smackdown on your foes.
- Traps such as FB are more not automatic. You click once, and only one fire blast is thrown.
- Between you and your Shadow, there can only be 5 “Set and Forget” traps out at the same time. Cast a sixth one, and the first one disappears.
- How quickly you can lay down traps is affect by attack speed, not casting rate. With burst of speed active you will cast traps a heck of a lot faster.
- LS and DS have 100% piercing, and the bolt travels a LONG way.
Here I describe the skills that a Ghost has points in, and discuss their usefulness. I also talk about the options you have on point placement.
Fire Blast: You throw a bomb. The bomb has a small splash radius. It’s not bad…but it’s not for a Ghost. This thing is nothing more than a prerequisite, and deserves only one point. However, if you’re really desperate to kill some lightning immune you can use this skill to speed things up a bit, helping out your shadow and mercenary. One point only
Shock Web: You throw a bunch of little objects that throw electricity between them once they land. Again, just a prerequisite. One point only.
Charged Bolt Sentry: This trap acts like the sorceress skill of the same name. It spews out some balls of lightning that weave randomly. Not a bad skill. This is one of the skills you have an option of pumping should you decide you are already surviving quite well. While safer players may wish to go with max Fade to get more DR and resists, the people with the better gear who already feel safe enough, and opt to spend less in fade, and move a few points here. The purpose of that of course is to boost the damage of both LS and DS. Pump this skill after you’ve finished everything else. 1-variable.
Lightning Sentry: This trap spews out lightning bolts that pierce thru enemies. LS is the bread and butter skill of the Ghost. It is your main way of dealing direct damage. Max it as soon as possible. 20 points.
Death Sentry: This trap acts a lot like LS, with an added twist. DS, while not doing quite as much lightning damage as LS, is still a good skill just because of its corpse explode effect. It can cause a monster corpse to explode, doing fire/physical damage proportional the corpse’s life to nearby enemies. Excellent to help take out lightning immune enemies. LS and DS synergize each other. Max this after maxing LS. 20 points.
Claw Mastery: Let’s you do better claw damage, and raises your AR with claw weapons. Since you’re not a physical fighter (after the first 30 levels anyways) this only deserves one point. It is a prerequisite to a large number of skills. One point only.
Burst of Speed: Feel the wind in your hair! This nifty skill lets you run a lot faster, and attack faster as well! It is perfect in situations when you know you won’t need the extra protection that Fade provided, and you want to lay down traps quickly. It is a prerequisite to fade, but it is already useful with only one point invested in it. It will be boosted by equipment. One point only.
Fade: This skill is what help give the Ghost her name. With this nifty aura on you look translucent…kinda…cloaked like the Terran ghost units in Starcraft. You don’t turn invisible in D2 with this aura, but you do gain a LOT of resistance, and gain 1% DR per skill level! On top of that curse duration gets cut by a lot too. This is your primary aura. Now, depending on how safe you feel (and depending on how much resists your other gears give you), you may want to max it, or leave it at as little as 10 points! Personally I invested 12 in it, and my +skills boosted it to 20, and I’m happy with it at that level I think. 10-20 points.
Psychic Hammer: You use this knock back your enemies. It does very little damage, and I prefer the stun on MB over the knockback on the hammer. It is a prerequisite. One point only.
Cloak of Shadows: CoS blinds your enemies, making it really hard for them to notice you. It also makes your DEF go up. Enemy DEF goes down as well, but that’s not as big of a deal. This is your other bread and butter skill. Blinding enemies is a good thing. If they can’t see you they can’t attack you! More on this later. It is effective at one point to tell the truth. One point only.
Mind Blast: Stuns your enemies for a few seconds, and also has a chance to convert the monsters to your side. This, combined with CoS, will give you ridiculously good crowd control. Converting monsters will keep you from getting swarmed, and keep the enemies busy while you lay traps and your shadow and mercenary picks them off! One point boosted by +skills is plenty. One point only.
Weapon Block: A very important skill. This skill allows you to block without using a shield! This skill also lets you block most magical attacks! A very good deal since you don’t have to worry about dexterity anymore! At level 10 you have a 50% chance to block. So put enough points here to achieve level 10 after +skills. I personally invested 9 in here.
Shadow Warrior: It creates a shadow of yourself, and uses the same skills you have readied on your mouse buttons. It is a prerequisite for Shadow Master, and only deserves one point. The SM is much better, trust me. One point only.
Shadow Master: It creates a powerful shadow ally, who can use pretty much all of the assassin skills…even the ones you haven’t spent points in. The SM is a great tank, and it is highly encouraged that you max it. My level 28 SM tanked Hell Ancients pretty well. I think I used a grand total of 2 healing potions on myself during that battle (although I’ve had to use more on my mercenary to keep her alive). 20 points.
In this section I list some suggested equipment for people who are not rich, the average Joes/Janes, what have you. In other words, this is a build most everybody can make. I’m not even going to list the uber equipment like Chains of Honor runeword for example, because if you’re rich enough to afford it, chances are you know well enough to make your own decisions about gear.
The goal being to survive everything and not die, resists, +life, faster hit recovery, and physical damage reduction are your most important goals. Also important are +mana items because with 0 energy invested, you’ll run out of mana in seconds. Next comes +skills. +skills are very good because it boosts your damage, your block rate, your shadow’s toughness…everything. With more skills your resist and damage reduction will be higher because of fade. Still, don’t sacrifice good defensive items like Rockstopper for something like a ‘Lore’ runeword helm for example. Remember, your goal is to survive. Besides, if you do happen to get slightly richer during your adventures, just trade for +skill grand charms. Those will help. I beat the game without any though. Faster run walk is definitely nice because you won’t be using BoS most of the time. Last but not least Magical damage reduction is nice for extra protection vs. those elemental attacks.
Recommended: Skin of the Vipermagi OR Lionheart runeword
Also viable: Smoke runeword OR Duriel’s shell.
Armor is a great place to look for life and resists. I personally used Vipermagi for the +1 to skills, 35 resist all, and 12 MDR. If I were really feeling unsafe, I would’ve tried to make myself a Lionheart armor. The fact that Lionheart gives you +20 vit, +25 str, +15 dex means you were just saved 60 stat points. Since you gain 3 hp per vitality, that’s an additional 180 life! On top of that there’s the +50 life mod so that’s a grand total of +230 life, 30 to all resistances, and a bit more mana (10 to energy) all for some not-too-rare middle runes! If you’re REALLY poor, just try to find a nice rare armor with dual resists (fire and lightning are most important), Faster hit recovery, and some life.
Recommended: Rockstopper Sallet
The Rockstopper is simply put an absolutely amazing helm. It has resist all, faster hit recovery, +vitality, AND damage reduction. It’s pretty much tailor-made for this build! I can’t really recommend anything else. Duskdeep helm will do in a punch if you can’t afford a Rockstopper (Rockstopper just isn’t that hard to get, trust me). Again, resists, DR, and life are all good things.
Recommended: Verdungo’s Hearty coil
Also viable: String of Ears
Verdungo’s has +vitality, faster hit recovery, and DR. Too bad I couldn’t afford one. For those who are poor like me, the String of Ears is good also. Not too expensive, and gives both DR and MDR. Mine was only 10% DR, but I still survived. This, plus the Rockstopper, plus FADE should put you close to max DR. For rares or magic belts look for belts like xxxxx belt of the Whale. Preferably something that gives resists and 100 life.
Recommended: Sandstorm Trek Boots
Also viable: Anything with resist or life really, depending on what you need.
Sandtreks has big poison resist, faster run walk, and a bonus to str and vitality. A good choice. It’s not a requirement though. Boots slot is up to you to fill up any gaps. All of mine were already filled so I went for SandTreks for more life.
Recommended: 2 magical +3 traps +3 LS claws.
Also viable: 2 magical +3 traps claws.
Go to Anya in nightmare or hell, and shop until you drop for these claws. Mine were only +3 to traps, but I still made it thru hell. I suspect if I shopped harder though the 6 extra points in LS might’ve made it a bit easier. I simple didn’t have the patience heh. Don’t try to get elite claws here. They do nothing for you except raise the str and dex requirements. On switch, have 2 +3 SD claws. If you can get one, have them be +3 SD, +3 to SM claws.
Really hard to recommend without knowing what the rest of the gear looks like. I’d say Frostburns if you need the extra mana, and Magnus gloves if you don’t, for the IAS (lay traps faster) and fire resist. Like the boot slot, this is really up to you. Fill up on missing resists, or +life, or faster trap laying, it’s all up to you.
If you have lots of mana charms, or are using frostburns, you may not need to use up both ring slots for +mana rings. Personally a ravenfrost and a Bahamut’s ring would work fine. If I had an extra Ravenfrost (for the cold absorb and Cannot be frozen Mod) I would’ve used it but I didn’t, so I went with two rings, and both gave me mana. One had resist all as well. I didn’t really mind not having the “cannot be frozen” mod. I just didn’t get chilled often enough for it to matter, except against Baal. Things to look for: +mana, mana regeneration, resists, life.
Recommended: +3 Traps amulet
This is pretty much the only choice. One with a second mod such as DR or MDR would be nice. I suppose if you can find a godly +2 to all assassin amulet with other mods such as resist and life you would use that, that’s probably very expensive.
Charms is where you can fill in the gaps. resist all charms are nice. +mana charms can help you chug less potions. The Annihilus charm is perfect if you can get one with its +1 skill, +to all attributes (means more life!), and resist all. +to experience is just gravy. And of course +SD or +Traps Grand Charms are always welcome. I wish I had some of those. Instead I just used an Annihilus, and a 14 res all grand charm with +5 to dex.
Your mercenary will be an integral part of your strategy. Treat him or her well from the very beginning, and he’ll repay you in kind. They are your lightning immune killers.
Recommended for more safety: Act 2 holy freeze mercenary (hired in nightmare)
Recommended for fun/coolness: Act 1 Rogue mercenary (hired in normal)
If you really want to be safe, you can always have 2 tanks by hiring an act2 mercenary to help along with your shadow. Give him a high damage weapon, lots of leech, and a high defense armor. Between him and your shadow, you shouldn’t even be touched, especially if you’re following the tactics which I will tell you in a later section.
Now the act 1 mercenaries have an advantage in the fact that since they stay back, they don’t die as often! They can concentrate on shooting and not won’t be in danger of getting stun-locked by a pack of urdars or something. The downside is, you only have your shadow to tank, and you don’t get an aura to help. I personally used an act 1 mercenary, and I still did very well. My shadow is just amazingly strong and can tank well, and my mercenary was free to shoot happily. Give the act1 mercenary to highest damage bow you find, give her lots of increased attack speed, and watch her kill lightning immunes for you.
This is one of the most important part of the guide, because unlike some other builds, you simply don’t have enough damage to go the ‘brute force’ way of killing things. Playing this build requires thinking, and caution. If you’re reckless and just charge into a group of enemies, even with this build you won’t last long
For the first 30 levels of your career, you’re going to pretend you’re a Martial Artist and whack things until they die. With low level sets like Sigon set and partial Angelic sets you should have no problems at all in normal. Just get enough IAS from equipment and then put on BoS to reach a good breakpoint. I remember I was using this rare sword with 20% IAS. Combined with Sigon’s 30% and my BoS, I was swinging at 9 frames a hit. You’d feel like you’re zealing with a slower weapon. Just find a decent one-handed weapon such as HellPlague longsword and use charms to keep up your dex as you’ll still use a shield at that point unless you’ve found some very good claws for damage. Practice using CoS to buy you more time to run up to the enemy and attack them.
Once I had hit level 31, I switched out of melee gear and almost never had to change gear again for the rest of the game. Only SandTrek boots because it had a higher level requirement. At level 30 start using some +2 Traps claws with +2 SD claws on switch, and then switch to the +3 versions at level 45.
Important: Whenever you want to use a Shadow skill such as cast SM or Fade, you should weapon switch to your dual +3 SD claws, so you get a free +6 SD skills when casting them! Afterwards immediately switch back before laying traps so you’ll get the extra +6 to Traps! However, in the middle of battle don’t bother to switch just to cast CoS or MB.
Against non-LI monsters, your strategy is simple. If you know (or suspect) that there’s a monster pack near you, cast CoS to blind them. If you do this correctly and the monsters can’t see you at all, then feel free to back up a bit and lay LS traps. The monsters should remain standing in place, stupidly being pounded on by your traps as they die wondering what hit them. If the geography allows it, you can do this even without using CoS! For example in Tal Rasha’s tomb or in the Throne of Destruction where there are those perpendicular corners, just stand back and lay traps at the intersections, and then listen to the monsters die! Casting traps ahead of you is also an excellent way of scouting ahead to see if there are monsters nearby.
However, if your group still manages to see you somehow (or if your teammates attract their attention), you’ll need to start using MB. MB messes with the monster’s mind, causing him to forget what he’s doing. Usually he’ll just come after you again recovering and detecting you again but wait! He’s BLIND because of CoS! so, unable to detect you anymore, and forgetting that he ever did, he’ll just stand stock still again, giving you ample time to lay your traps! Don’t forget to recast CoS if the group takes a while to kill.
|“Always lay traps on a location on the screen, and never by clicking on the monster itself. Clicking on t he monster itself will just lay a trap randomly around the monster. I also like to lay 5 LS on the exact same spot. This is a good idea a lot of the time because all 5 LS will attack the same enemy. “|
When laying traps try to place your LS direction in front of the longest line of monsters you can find. Since LS has 100% piercing, your LS should hit every monster in its way in a straight line. Always lay traps on a location on the screen, and never by clicking on the monster itself. Clicking on the monster itself will just lay a trap randomly around the monster. While this is ok for just one monster, you won’t want that if there is a pack and you want all of your LS to pierce lots of monsters. I also like to lay 5 LS on the exact same spot. This is a good idea a lot of the time because all 5 LS will attack the same enemy. This will create the first body in the shortest amount of time, allowing you to start laying down a DS and let the corpse explosions begin!
There are times when despite your best efforts and execution, an enemy pack will just be too close to you for the above strategy to work. If you are too close to the monsters even if you use CoS and MB they will still come after you. This is the situation when after you use CoS, you keep on spamming MB, until you convert at least 1/3 of the monsters. By doing so, you just gained quite a few tanks to take hits for you, and you’ll keep the monster pack busy killing each other, giving your Shadow and your mercenary the opportunity to lay down the hurt without being surrounded! And this is of course the perfect time to lay down your traps.
The strategy sounds simple eh? That’s because it is. The execution will be somewhat different every time though depending on terrain, monster types, whether there are uniques about, etc. One type of monster however will give you a lot of trouble, and this is where your mercenary shines. When encountering (Lightning Immune) LI monsters mixed with non-LI monsters, use the above strategy, and quickly kill all the non-LI monsters first (you will have to place your LS closer to the non-LIs so that traps will shoot at them only) and then lay down a few DS. DS’s corpse explode effect does fire and physical damage, and will either kill or soften the LIs up for you. Once all the bodies are gone, if there are still LIs left, then you will have to rely on your shadow to tank (or SM + mercenary is mercenary is from act 2) while you use MB to keep the enemies stunned so your mercenary’s physical attack can whittle the monsters down eventually. This can be a slow and painful process against some enemies with lots of health, but it’s an acceptable price to pay given that during all of this no monsters should be going after you at all! If one does, run back and let your SM take it on. CoS will help your SM fight as it’ll raise everyone’s defense. Always remember to give your mercenary a high damage weapon. You can convert some of the LIs to keep the heat off your Shadow and mercenary if the LI pack is too big or too tough to handle all at once. Eventually they will die one by one to your mercenary (you can use your very weak FB to help a little if you want) and you will come through without a scratch. Your SM, however, might have needed to be recast during the middle of battle. That’s ok, because that’s what she’s there for, to take the hits.
|“The Ghost is equipped to survive whatever Hell can throw at her, but she wasn’t designed to be an unstoppable killing machine that can destroy everything with a click. Don’t be afraid to retreat or run, especially if you’re in hardcore.”|
Be warned, there are some areas of the game where I personally found it too hard to solo or too hard to finish in a reasonable amount of time. For example, Hell Maggot Lair, full of LIs, might take too long for your mercenary to take on one by one. It might be better to team up with someone else and play the role of support character in these situations. Also, against LI/Physical immunes you have no chance, so just stun it with MB, and run past it. Usually there are no areas in Normal and Nightmare that you can’t solo, as the enemies just aren’t that tough. However, in Hell, there will be certain spots when you’re just overwhelmed with pack after pack of champion Lightning Immunes and then that’s the time to suck up your pride, and get your Ghost outta there! Use the standard CoS/MB tactic and then run past the monsters to the next area. Or, convert some of them to keep each other busy while you run. The Ghost is equipped to survive whatever Hell can throw at her, but she wasn’t designed to be an unstoppable killing machine that can destroy everything with a click. Don’t be afraid to retreat or run, especially if you’re in hardcore. There is no shame in that. For these areas, it is best to bring along someone else to deal with the LIs.
Against Act Bosses, just have your SM tank it, cast CoS and then lay down LS and repeat till boss is dead. It is one target. Not much strategy here except to remember to dodge attacks when they come your way, and to remember to refresh your traps every now and then.
Even when you’re in a party and it seems like others may be killing faster than you, or if you’re in a room full of LIs and you can’t really kill at all, don’t worry for you are a terrific party player! CoS will raise base defense for everyone in your party, in addition to blinding the enemies, so your teammates become harder to hit as they fight. Also, you can keep a monster stun-locked forever by continually Mind Blasting it. You can help prevent your team from getting swarmed by using the same crowd control techniques you use when you’re alone and relying on your SM/mercenary to tank. Once, in an 6 or 7 player game, my SM ended up tanking a big boss pack of LIs while my teammates fired upon the group from afar. The group consisted of Fanaticism enchanted Urdars, and the only reason my Shadow didn’t die in 3 seconds is because I kept the group stunned with MB! Converting a few also helped, and eventually everything fell against us, with my SM still alive in the middle of the ring of corpses (although only barely). There’s only one group of monsters that will really give a bunch load of trouble especially alone, and that is Lister and his minions of Destruction. They can’t be stunned, and they can’t be converted. My SM lasted on average 10 seconds before biting the dust. That battle consisted of a lot of running, casting LS, and then running again to recast SM. During this battle you’ll come to appreciate exactly how much CoS and MB are your dear friends and you’ll miss them dearly here.
I’ll list some big trouble spots I remember having in Hell: Maggot Lair, River of Flame, Travincal, Durance of Hate (Mephisto himself is easy). The remaining areas, if I remember correctly, still took effort, but at least I didn’t have to run all the time or be forced to party to get past it. Your mercenary is a big factor here. If you have a great mercenary, then you’ll be able to do a lot more areas than if you have a weak mercenary. Your mercenary is an important second source of damage. Do not neglect him/her.
In this section I’ll list my own personal Stat and skill point placements and other info from my character screen.
Unused skill points: 4
Unused stat points: 40
Stats after items and charms:
And then the one-pointers I mentioned of course have a point in them.
After items (with appropriate weapon switch)
The 4 extra points I have could go to either Fade or CBS. I’d probably go with CBS because I was rarely ever in damage of dying. I feel safe enough so I’ll go for damage.
DEF: 792 (DEF does not matter at all in this build)
LS damage per shot: 1-2540
Resistances in hell before casting fade:
I can probably dump my resist all charms onto another character since I use fade all the time anyways. After casting fade of course I have maxed resists.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide as much as I have enjoyed creating it. I also hope this guide will be of great help to many people. I had a lot of fun playing my Ghost (her name is GeckoPeltSeller on USWest Softcore Ladder. My acct is Angel_of_heaven) and I distinctly remember only two instances when her life was in imminent danger. One time I used a Full rejuvenation potion and was ok, and the other time I had to save and quit after using my Full Rejuv because I was completely surrounded with no way out. However, I had a lot of time to press esc and quit out because my Ghost was just that tough All in all, GeckoPeltSeller has NEVER, EVER, died to a monster! I’m proud because this is the first time ever one of my characters has not died and was able to complete Hell! The Ghost is a very fun and safe character to play, and she will not let you down! I think she’d do great for hardcore. Well, to all I wish thee good luck, and I hope to see some Ghosts on battlenet soon! Nova, eat your heart out (StarCraft reference)!