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Diablo 2 Guide: Lightning Trapsin Assassin

Guide by: jrichard -


Diablo 2 Guide: Lightning Trapsin AssassinThought I’d throw together a general guide to building a lightning Trapsin pointed towards solo play. First question might be, Why a Trapsin? Trapsins in 1.10 have a very nice combination of attacks in the lightning skills, a really nice backup fire skill, access to a corpse explosion skill, and a nice minion for tanking and handling some immunities that give the Trapsin trouble. She can be played untwinked without much trouble and is not in need of a whole lot of high-end gear to be at her most effective setup. A great first character for getting a taste for this game and finding a few items to get other characters started.

Given that last statement, this guide will focus on playing an untwinked assassin through the game. Gear suggestions will be general. If you’re looking for a guide that states in absolute terms “use this claw with that helm and this armor”, look elsewhere.

To start things off I’ll say that there are two valid build ideas for the lightning Trapsin that I’m going to describe. One makes use of Charged Bolt Sentry (hereafter referred to as CBS) for boss killing rather than just as a synergy to Lightning Sentry (LS). The other uses a higher level Death Sentry (DS) for more corpse explosion radius and leaves the CBS points as a synergy bonus. My personal preference is for the first option, but I’ll lay both builds out for you.

Their gear suggestions and stat point recommendations are the same, but the tactics are slightly different. Abbreviations

Burst of Speed – BoS
Charged Bolt Sentry – CBS
Cloak of Shadows – CoS
Death Sentry – DS
Fire Blast – FB
Lightning Sentry – LS
Mind Blast – MB
Shadow Master – SM
Shock Web – Sweb
Weapon Block – WB

LS/CBS/FB build

20 Fire Blast (FB)
18 Shock Web (Sweb)
20 CBS
20 LS
9 Shadow Master (SM), the target here is to cast her at level 17
1 point into DS, Fade, Weapon Block (WB), Cloak of Shadows (CoS), Mind Blast (MB)

Total skill points needed: 96
Character level needed to complete (all skill quests done): 85
Place to put points once build is complete: DS

Damage counting +8 to trap skills
FB 1385-1700
CBS shoots 10 times, 11 bolts per shot, 3-477 damage per bolt
LS 5-3214 per shot, 10 shots

Skill point plan

Level 1-11*: 5 FB, 1 Sweb, 1 Claw Mastery, 1 Psychic Hammer, and 1 Burst of Speed (BoS).
Level 12-23**: 8 CBS, 1 WB, 1 CoS, 1 Fade, 1 Shadow Warrior
Level 24-30***: 9 LS, 1 DS, 1 MB, 1 SM

* Includes normal Den of Evil
** Includes normal Radament
*** Includes normal Izual

Beyond level 30 max LS first, then CBS. That will put you in your early 50’s. I’d suggest alternating between Sweb and FB until those reach the target goals.

The reason for only 18 points into Sweb? It’s only there to provide more bolts for CBS. You get 1 more bolt per shot with CBS for every 3 points placed into Sweb. Going to level 20 would not give any more bolts and Sweb itself is not used, so no need to max it out.

All throughout this you can feel free to give a pt here or there to your SM if you feel she needs a boost. You can get by without doing that if you take some time and shop for the gear suggested below. The casting target level of SM is 17. At level 17, the SM gets all of her rare items. Another approach is to cast her with a target level of 11 when she has all rare items except for one ring and her amulet. 8 +shadow skills is not at all unreasonable to figure on as 6 of those +skills can come from shadow claws. Those are claws with the +3 shadow skills mod on them and they can be bought from vendors in nightmare level once your character reaches level 50. That only leaves 2 more skills needed from your armor, helm, or amulet. That’s not at all unrealistic.

I’ll go into it more when I discuss equipment and IAS, but I run Fade as the primary aura with my Trapsins as opposed to BoS. IAS is of very limited use to PvM Trapsins in my opinion.

LS/DS/FB build

20 FB
20CBS or Sweb
20 LS
20 DS
9 SM
1 point into Fade, WB, CoS, MB

Total skill points needed: 98
Character level needed to complete (all skill quests done): 87
Place to put points once build is complete: CBS or Sweb whichever isn’t already maxed

Damage counting +8 to trap skills
FB 1424-1749
LS 5-3350
DS radius 12.3 yards, shoots 11 times

Skill Point Plan

Level 1-23*: 10 FB, 5 CBS, 1 Sweb (can be done 1 CBS and 5 Sweb if you plan on using Sweb for synergy), 1 CM, 1 Psychic Hammer, 1 BoS, 1 Fade, 1 WB, 1 CoS
Level 24-30**: 7 LS, 1 DS, 1 MB, 1 SM
*Includes normal Den of Evil and Radament
**Includes normal Izual

Beyond level 30 max LS, then DS. That will put you in your early 60’s. Alternate between FB and CBS after that until they are maxed.

Points into SM will follow the same rules as listed for the first build.

It’s important for me the say that these are just guidelines. Granted the skill placement in this guide is pretty specific, but that’s a result of my playing a fair number of these assassins and finding what works best for me. I encourage you to find what works best for you. Please adjust these builds as you see fit to meet your own playing style.

Stat Point Placement

Stat points for a PvM Trapsin are fairly easy and straightforward

Strength – 79
Dexterity – 79
Vitality – All the rest
Energy – To taste

You can get by with no points in energy if you’re willing to use mana potions heavily in the lower levels. Some people don’t feel comfortable with this, so adding 25 or so points as you go through the early levels is quite feasible and wouldn’t take very much away from the build at all. It really is up to the individual.You want to be able to use scissors katar by the time you get to level 25-30. You can buy +1 traps, +1 shadow or +1 assassin claws from Jamella in act 4 and you should get there sometime in those levels. She only sells scissors katar. They have strength and dexterity requirements of 55 each.

This is the plan I favor for getting there. By level 11, give 20 to strength, 20 dex, and 10 vitality. You’ll have to melee for much of your early career, but I tend not to need the points into vitality this early and find it best to get the lion’s share of my early strength and dexterity needs out of the way as soon as possible. Also, this allows you to move into wrist blades fairly early. This would put you at 40 strength and dexterity at level 11. You only need 15 more in each in the next 14 to 19 levels.

From here I’d switch to 1 strength and dexterity and 3 vitality per level. Counting the tome quest in act 3, you’ll meet the requirements for scissors katar at level 25. If you intend on putting a few points into energy, pull them from vitality after level 11. I’d just continue with that plan right up until you get to the strength and dexterity target of 79. That will allow you to equip greater talons. Untwinked, I’d suggest you go ahead and just meet the equipment requirements instead of counting on finding +stats items. If you’re twinking your character, you’ll have to add up what you will get from your equipment and go from there.

Equipment Suggestions

As I said in the beginning of this guide, these will be pretty general. I don’t think listing a specific setup as the only way to go is viable untwinked. It’s not even desirable twinked in my opinion. The items you use will depend a great deal on your personal playing style. Just as with the skill placement, I encourage you to find what works best for you instead of just taking my suggestions blindly.

I’ll state first that PvM Trapsins have very limited use for IAS items. IAS will only affect the speed at which you throw the traps, not the speed at which they fire. Firing speed is set and cannot be changed. With the two builds listed here, the only skill that gets a real benefit from IAS is Fire Blast. IAS or using BoS will allow you to throw them faster. Rather than trying to get IAS on you gear, I’d suggest that you use the point you had to put into BoS in order to get Fade when you run into a situation where you really need to toss out the FBs fast.

That being said, here are the mods I look for in Trapsin gear:

+Skills. Trapsins live and die by their skill levels. The most important mod to my mind, even in HC. Resists would be in this spot if it weren’t for Fade.

+Mana. I’d go for more mana as opposed to Mana regeneration until you have a larger mana pool. Mana regeneration is based off of regenerating your entire pool over a set amount of time (three minutes). When your mana pool is at lower levels, you’ll get faster regeneration from adding to the mana pool than by adding regeneration items. I usually look to have a mana pool of around 200 before going after a lot of mana regeneration. One other note, +mana per kill items do not work with traps. Unless the item has other mods you want, don’t bother with it.

+Resists. Even with fade, in the later part of the game you’ll need to add resists from your gear, especially considering I highly recommend all PvM Trapsins go with a dual claw setup for the extra skill boosts a second claw will give you.

Magical damage reduced by x. A very handy mod on items provided you get more than a few points of it. It can nicely supplement your resistances.

+Mana Regeneration. As I stated above, this is helpful, but you need a decent mana pool before it really affects your playing.

Faster Run/Walk. If you’re using Fade, this is a convenient mod to have, but is not a mandatory one.

And a few mods I don’t look for in Trapsin gear.

Physical Damage Reduction. Really, you should only need this to help deal with ranged attackers. You shouldn’t be in melee range. Don’t go out of your way to get PDR on items. You’ll already get 1%PDR for every level you have Fade at when you cast it. Use CoS against ranged attackers and items with more useful mods instead of this one.

IAS. Like I stated above. PvM Trapsins don’t get a lot of benefit from IAS. It’s better to just use BoS if you need to increase your attack speed.
-x% Enemy Resistance. Don’t bother. This doesn’t work with traps as the game considers them minions. Complete waste for a pure Trapsin. Hybrids may be able to take some advantage of them if they’re using elemental charge-ups or venom, but this isn’t a hybrid guide.

Faster Cast Rate. Trap laying speed is IAS based. Only CoS and MB would get a benefit from this. Has a good use in PvP, useless for PvM.

I’m really not gonna throw out specific suggestions on which equipment to use.

I’ll say that early on, sapphires in helms and armor are your friends.

Forget about claw damage, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need elite class claws, they’ll just raise your stat requirements and provide no benefit over exceptional claws. Try for Cunning Greater Talons (+3 traps) with plusses to the traps you wish to use. A pair with no boosts to individual skills will still increase your trap skill levels by 6. They have a base weapon speed of –30 so your trap laying speed will be nice with them.

Gamble obsessively. Look for circlets and amulets with +traps or +assassin skills. Look for rings with mana and resists. Look for claws with +trap skills. Gloves, belts and boots with mana and resists.

Anya in act 5 is the easiest vendor to shop for claws from. Don’t get the waypoint in the halls of pain on the way to Nihlathak and the portal that sits beside Anya will not close. Just jump through the portal and back to reset her inventory. It may take some time, but you’ll find the Cunning and Shadow claws we want from her.

Don’t forget the runewords. Stealth, Smoke, and Lore are all nice to level with as well as being viable in the end game.

That’s it, build your own uniquely individual gear setup that suits you to a tee.


I’ll just list the mercenaries by act and give a short opinion on their usefulness in my mind.

Act 1 Rogue

I can’t think of a single reason why I’d keep her once I get to act 2 normal. Her AI is a real pain. She tends to range out fairly far from you and gets herself constantly swarmed as a result. If I want a ranged mercenary, I’ll take an act 3 mercenary over her.

Act Two Desert

The Holy Freeze (defensive) one from nightmare level is probably the most widely used mercenary in this game. Trapsins are no different in this choice. Their aura slows enemies down and allows your traps to do more damage before they can get to you. The Defiance (defensive) ones from normal and hell level are also decent choices. Their aura allows them to tank better for your traps and helps your Shadow Master stay alive longer. I’d say these two are pretty close as to which one is better in 1.10. Might, Blessed Aim, Prayer, and Thorns mercenaries have little to offer a Trapsin compared to the first two. Although of the also-rans, the Prayer (normal and hell combat) one has the most to offer. With either an act two mercenary or one from act five, you can run without a shadow at all if you choose. That could save you a nice bunch of skill points to place into synergies if you want to try it out. I don’t suggest that for first time Trapsins, though. If you’re new to the character, give yourself a break and get the shadow for the extra protection.

Act Three Iron Wolves

If you plan on using a shadow to do all your tanking and want a ranged mercenary, this is where I suggest you get him. The AI of these guys is far better than the act one rogues. Lightning is really a bad choice here as you’ll be doing far more lightning damage than him and ideally your mercenary should be able to hurt the enemies that are resistant to your attacks. For that same reason, I wouldn’t suggest a fire one either. You’ll have a better fire attack at your disposal with Fire Blast. That just leaves the cold choice. If you are going for the high level Death Sentry build, you don’t want corpses shattering and leaving nothing for you to explode. So, even this one is out for that build. Go for a melee-based choice for that build. For the CBS/LS build however, the act 3 cold mercenary is my choice for solo play. In this build DS is a support skill, not a main killing skill. The reduction in the number of corpses available to explode isn’t as big a drawback as it is with the other build. Using this mercenary allows you to have a team capable of taking on anything in the game. You will cover lightning and fire damage, your shadow has physical damage and the mercenary will kick in the cold damage. His damage, while not spectacular, is capable of killing in solo hell games. You just need to have patience. Use CoS to back him up and keep a shadow up to tank for him and he’ll get the job done eventually. Also nice is the fact that he’ll stick close to you and anything that approaches you will get frozen. Nice bit of safety for those of us who are of a HC mind.

Act Five Barbarians

What can I say about these guys. When it comes to shear tanking, they’re it. They do suffer from lack of the useful auras that the act two mercenaries have and that’s why they are chosen less often. But, if you are just looking for the big tank to stand out in front and take the hits and couldn’t care less about the auras, this is your guy. Grab one in normal and keep him for the rest of the game. Really, although I personally think there are better choices, this would by no means be a bad one.

Trap Laying Techniques

They majority of mana and killing speed issues most people have when running Trapsins are probably tied up in how they are placing their traps. Trap placement is key to taking these from okay builds to great builds. In normal and most of nightmare, you can get by with just spamming out five traps in a rather haphazard fashion. It’s not going to be as fast a method of killing, but it will work. In late nightmare and hell level, things will change. It’s best to just get yourself used to using good trap placement right from the beginning. You’ll have lots of room for error while learning and by the time it’s necessary, it’ll be second nature.

As a general rule, you should almost never namelock a target to lay your traps. If you do, the traps will get placed around the target where the game thinks there’s room for them. Your LS’s will fire in all sorts of different directions and many CBS bolts will miss. As for Fire Blast, that’s a lot like running ranged character, you can namelock them if they’re standing still, but you need to learn how to lead targets that are moving.

Lightning Sentry

LS fires in a straight line and pierces through all enemies until it reaches its maximum range or gets stopped by a large obstacle, i.e. a wall, tree or rock.

This trap is perfectly suited for lined-up monsters.

LS’s range increases with more points. If you can, place them to continue down long hallways after hitting your target or into open areas if you’re outside.

Often times, as a group of monsters approach you they string out a little and line up. This trap placed in a stack in front of such a group will tear them up.

If the group is more bunched up, say for instance around your shadow or mercenary, you don’t want to stack the traps. Lay them close together in a slightly curved line off to one side of the group. You’ll do more damage to the whole group than if you just stacked them.

As a general rule of thumb for LS, always keep in mind what is behind the monster you’re trying to target with LS and adjust your placement to hit as many enemies as possible.

Charged Bolt Sentry

CBS releases a set of charged bolts every time it fires that travel outward from the trap at slight angles from each other causing it to spread its damage in an arc that widens the farther away from the trap the bolts get. The bolts from CBS do not pierce, once they hit a target they are gone.

Most often you don’t want this trap to be directly left, right, up, or down from your targets. You want to place this at angles in-between. If we use the clock reference, place them at around 2, 5, 8 or 11 o’clock rather than 3, 6, 9, or 12 o’clock.

Versus singles monsters, you want the CBS traps to be as close as possible to the target. Multiple CBS bolts can hit the same target and if the traps are placed right, all the bolts can hit one large target.

This is how I kill bosses with this trap. First of all, count on laying these traps in groups of six, not five. Lay the first one far enough from the target that you’re not namelocked on it. Without letting the mouse button up, move the cursor right next to the boss (at an angle, not directly up, down, left or right) and lay five more traps without letting the button up. This will erase your first trap and leave you with five traps right next to, almost on top of, the boss. Most if not all the bolts should hit. When used this way, CBS will deal more damage to a single monster than LS by far. If your placement is bad and bolts start missing, it will do much less damage than LS. CBS is really a finesse trap.

Against groups, once again it’s not best to stack these traps unless the targets are lined up. Using CBS against a group will kill more slowly than LS, but it has an advantage in that it spreads the damage out better. It can be easier to keep an entire group in hit recovery with CBS. It’s a way to keep your mercenary and shadow a little safer in fights against a large number of small targets. Flayers and Fallen come to mind as two groups this works well against. Demon Imps also spring up as a group to use this against. Personal note – I hate those little teleporting pains in the butt! –End personal note. To place them against groups, think of the area that you want to cover. It can even be effective to place them all around a group and let them all fire towards the center (not against the imps!).

Fire Blast

FB doesn’t have a whole lot of tactics attached to it, but it has a few things that should be mentioned. First, learn how to lead a target. You’ll notice that the arc when you throw it very far is quite high. Make sure to adjust how much you lead the target with to accommodate this. Secondly, don’t forget that FB has a small damage radius. If you’re dealing with a group, toss it in the middle, not at the edge of the group. Finally, FB doesn’t count against your five trap total, feel free to spam them while your other traps are firing. It will drain your mana quickly if you do this, so have mana pots available if you have a low mana pool.

Death Sentry

Since all we’re looking for from DS is the corpse explosion, I’ll talk about that. If you plan on using the lightning damage, it fires just like LS and the tactics will be the same. Most often you’ll place four of another trap and drop a DS trap last to help cleanup groups once the first trap has provided a few bodies.

To better understand how this trap works, you need to think of three different ranges. The first one I’ll call the targeting range. This is how close to the trap a monster has to be in order for it to fire its lightning bolt. The second is the bolt’s range or the distance it will travel once it’s fired. The third is listed in the description on the skill screen. It’s the corpse explosion radius. The corpse explosion radius is measured from the body, not from the trap. Now, the corpse explosion can happen on anybody within the bolt’s range. In order for the corpse to explode, an enemy has to come within the corpse explosion range of the body. Once an enemy comes within the corpse explosion range, the body will explode and do damage in the radius listed on the character screen.

The trap, however, will stay up until it has fired its lightning its maximum times. What this all means is it’s possible to lay a DS trap outside of its targeting range and get corpse explosions to happen on bodies within the bolt’s range, but because the trap doesn’t fire it’s maximum times, it does not get used up. I’ve had bodies explode for me several screens away from the DS trap when using high-level DS. You can drop a DS every so often even if no enemies are around and still get the corpse explosion effect. Just make sure you don’t overwrite the DS trap that you left behind. Learning to estimate these ranges, I leave it up to you if you want to try and take advantage of this. It’s something that can only be learned with practice in my opinion.

With all of these, don’t forget to use CoS and MB. CoS won’t just blind enemy-ranged attackers to you, it’ll also help hold all monsters in place for your traps to go to work on them. MB will stun them, it breaks their AI pattern if they are still headed to where you are after casting CoS and it can give you a few temporary allies to take the heat off of both you and your minions.

A big thanks to Son of Rah and Bandit xx for their 1.09 PvM Trapper guide. I’m hoping the updated version for this patch comes out soon!

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