She had little patience. When she was learning the black arts of assassination, she did not favour the delicate timing of those assassins who charged their bodies before delivering a knockout blow. She just went straight into the fray. The others said she was more like a barbarian in a frenzy than an assassin. That didn’t bother her. She just let her fists do the talking. She was the “Aggressin” – The aggressive assassin.
This Assassin build came out of a request for a build based around Natalya’s Odium Set that didn’t use charge-ups. Essential it uses physical damage and venom from a 5FPA dual claw attack, backed up with a nice juicy Corpse Explosion from Death Sentry. The Nat’s set version is still included, but bespoke equipment is the best way to go for this build.
I am not a Hardcore player, but this guide has had quite a lot of input from Nightfish, so should be Hardcore capable, although not all of us have his playing skills. Just please don’t blame me if you see deeds.
Uh, wait, so does that mean it’s my fault? Ok, seriously, though, this build is definitely HC capable. I’ve done something similar before and with CoS it’s a piece of cake.
I also play single player, so high runes are not as available as they are on BNet, but I have tried to include BNet friendly suggestions where appropriate.
So why is this build better than using Whirlwind?
It isn’t, just think of this build as a Frenzy assassin. Actually, having played both builds through the game, I think it is much stronger that WW for PvM. You can get reasonable damage from the claws meaning your attack (unlike a PvM WW build) is not just limited to getting the first corpse for Death Sentry.
– WW has a negative damage penalty at lower levels. DC has a decent (although not great) damage bonus.
– You can trigger CtC effects with DC (like Life Tap from Dracul’s Grasp), which you can’t trigger with WW.
– You won’t hit as quickly. 5 frames per strike with DC, 2 frames for WW.
– WW requires less points as you don’t put them into you main skill.
– If you MP, other players won’t go “ooooh you’ve got Chaos.”
2. Assassin Skills
Build is finished at level 81, all quests done. This is the build that I played through the game with.
Builds are based on being levelled to about 80 with all quests done. I choose this number as it is a fairly easy level to arrive at Hell Baal.
The Blade Slinger
I know some people think that using Death Sentry makes things too easy. The Blade Slinger uses the ED bonuses from Claw Mastery and equipment for a ranged alternative attack. More on this in the skill discussion below.
Claw Mastery 20 points
Dragon Claw 20 points
Dragon Claw is going to be our main attack. At level 20 Claw Mastery gives 111% ED and Dragon Claw 145% ED. Since 1.13 CM also gives a further 5% synergy to DC per point invested. You will want to max both to squeeze out as much damage as possible. The other advantage of maxxing both is that you get an insane AR bonus – 515% from DC and 220% from CM. This opens up a lot of equipment options as you don’t need much base AR in your gear.
Blade Fury – 0-20 points
If you are after a ranged backup attack, the additional three points required to get Blade Fury may be well spent. Note that Blade Fury works very nicely with claws and claw mastery, and if you are wearing Fortitude the Blade Fury damage gets multiplied by the ED bonus.
if you haven’t already read it. The Blade Slinger variant uses BF with only a single point investment in Death Sentry. Using a high damage claw to throw blades with, the damage gets boosted both by Claw Mastery and by any ED on your gear. That is both the claw damage and the damage listed by the skill itself.
All looks like it works perfectly together so far doesn’t it? Well no. The downside of this is that BF does not benefit from the AR bonus from Claw Mastery. So now you have two attacks at the different end of the spectrum for AR demands – Dragon Claw requires very little base AR from equipment, BF requires loads of AR. This doesn’t sit nicely together for me, I think the base build is a bit more elegant. If you do decide to go this route, look for Ignore Target Defence on the primary claw.
Cloak of Shadows – 1 point
This is the major defensive skill of the build. It limits the radius of you enemies awareness and lowers their defence. A one point wonder, but don’t be afraid to put in an extra point or twi if you feel you need a bit more duration.
Weapon Block – 0
Yes, you read that correctly. Weapon Block cripples this build. DC is a 10 frame, two strike, interruptible attack. With weapon block it is very easy to get block locked and not be able to get an attack off. Don’t blame me if you put a point in it and die to a pack of Fallen in A1 Hell.
Shadow Master – 0 points
Well no Weapon Block automatically means no Shadow Master, unless you get her as a staffmod on a claw. But with your low level of +skills, it really isn’t worth it. Anyway, in the words of the HC master:
Nightfish said:As for shadows… Yea… no one needs them. They’re like valks. A bit like training wheels on a bike. They seem to help at first but when you’re trying to go for a triathlon they hold you back.
Mind Blast – 0-1 points
With CoS it isn’t really required, but some people swear by it. One point if you want it. I put a point in it out of habit, but only really used it against Lister.
Venom – 1-20 points
This is going to be a major boost to damage against anything not immune to Poison. Unless you are going for the trap hybrid you want 20 points here.
Death Sentry – 1-20 points
Some people think this makes builds “too easy. If you really want a non-DS, you may want to consider The Blade Slinger build instead. But personally “I love the smell of Corpse Explosion in the morning – smells like victory.”
More on effective use of DS in the Gameplay section.
Lightning Sentry – 1-20 points
A synergy for Death Sentry, but with the Death Sentry Synergy this is also a strong skill in it’s own right. One a a pre-req, or 20 points if you are going for The Dragon Trapper build.
Fire Blast – 1or 3 points
Every three hard points in Fire Blast gives Death Sentry an Extra shot. As you already have to invest one a prerequisite, another two points isn’t a huge investment for more Corpse Explosion.
Dragon Flight – 1 point
Almost all my PvM assassins get a point in DF, if only for no other reason than it is fun. For this build it is almost essential. You will be relying on your Mercenary to boost your damage, and also possibly to help you defensively. As you sprint around the map with Burst of Speed, it is easy to out distance the merc. A point in Dragon Flight allows you to gather him up again and re-focus his attention.
3. How Dragon Claw Works
“This skill allows the Assassin to try to finish her opponent off with a rending double claw attack. (Requires two equipped Claw-class weapons.)”
Just like frenzy, Dragon Claw lists two damages and two attack ratings in the LCS. Dragon Claw hits with one claw then the next, with separate to hit checks and damages for each claw. It is a 10 frame interruptible attack, during which you strike with each claw in turn.
Claw positions are the Primary (above the gloves) and the secondary (above the boots). As this is a PvM build, and you will be switching weapons, weapon speed bugging is not going to be discussed. There has been some debate as to what modifiers work from the secondary claw hit.
Mods that always work
The following modifiers always work, regardless of the attack:
– Faster Hit Recovery
Mods that work on the secondary claw
All these I have tested and verified.
– Elemental Damage
– Open Wounds
– Hit Freezes Target
– % Chance to cast X mod on striking
– % Chance to cast X mod on attack
– Ignore Target Defence
These mods are not tested
Personally I feel that, given everything else I have tested does work, these will work too. When I manage to get hold of the right claws (and decide how I can test it properly for things like crushing blow), I’ll update further.
– Prevent Monster Heal
– Crushing Blow
– Deadly Strike
– Hit Blinds Target
– Hit Slows Target
Mods that don’t work
What definitely does not work on the secondary claw?
– IAS. Keep those Shaels well away from the claw above the boots, it won’t do you any good.
Some numbers to aim for:
48% Faster Hit Recovery = 5 Frames
75% Lightning Resist, about 50% Fire, Poison and Cold Resist >0%. 75% Resist All is nice, but not essential, especially for SC.
6K+ Attack Rating. The more the better really. It should be easy to hit 8K+ though.
Enough IAS for a 10 frame Dragon Claw attack with Burst of Speed active.
Remember what I said about the AR bonus from DC earlier? Well you only need a bit of base AR to get a very nice total AR number. A Ravenfrost, maybe a Sharp / Steel GC or two and the dexterity investment you need for your claws should put you AR in the 8K region – no need to fill your inventory with Steel GCs to get decent AR. That leaves plenty of space to make up your resistances there. The basic strategy for equipment is damage from equipment, resists from inventory.
Any two claws selected from this list, pretty much in order of preference. You should be looking for as much raw damage as possible, even if you are wearing Fortitude. Damage isn’t great from claws, remember 600% of nothing is still nothing.:
Rare – A nice rare is potentially the best claw you can get. Fools, Cruel, Ethereal Feral Claws of Self Repair are possible, but good luck finding some. If you are going for The Blade Slinger build, look for a rare with Ignores Target Defence.
Chaos – With the increased rune drops of 1.13 this becomes more of a viable option for at least one of the two claws. It has a great ED bonus and triggering the CTC effects and the added Magic Damage make this a great choice, especially if you made it in a high damage claw base. It is not compulsory to only use WW as an attack if you have it equipped. I used 2x Chaos Runic Talons to complete the game, but for this build Suwayyah’s are probably the best base item because of the higher damage
Fury – Pre 1.13 this was a ‘BNet only’ option only because of the cost, but now it is starting to become a bit more viable for Single Players too. For this build Suwayyah’s are probably the best base item choice, but I would still check what base items work best other builds before putting a Jah into them.
Shadow Killer – The high damage makes this a very good choice. The drawback is that the ctc Nova and the hit freezes target will reduce the number of corpses that you have to trigger corpse explosion. I have tried it and you certainly get less corpses, but on the other hand you have better defence as you are freezing your enemies. I’m not keen on the claw’s character level 78 though. If you decide to use them NM Baals should get you there relative quickly, The Cave in Hell Cold Plains also works, just beware of Cold Crow.
Bartuc’s Cut Throat – great bonuses, including a big chunk of FHR, but the damage is a bit low. Upping them helps a bit. If you are on BNet and can get Ethereal upped Zoded Bartucs, then these become very nice.
Natalya’s Mark – It has reasonable base damage, and the +200% damage to Undead and Demons helps too. The Ignores Target Defence makes it a possible choice for The Blade Slinger variant. Like Shadow Killer, the clvl79 requirement is a bit annoying though.
Jade Talon – It could be used, but it is far from optimal – The damage isn’t high enough. The previous version of this guide suggested using Jade Talon as a secondary claw. You shouldn’t need to be looking for resists here if you follow the basic equipment strategy above. Go for something with damage instead.
1. Find the WSM of your claws.
2. Work out the average WSM.
3. Look at the IAS and BoS requirements from the table.
1. Find the WSM of your claws.
You can find out all about this in my Claw Guide
Some or the recommended WSMs:
[B]Claw Name[/B] [B]WSM[/B] Bartuc's Cut Throat -30 Jade Talon -10 Shadow Killer -10 Natalya's Mark 0 Runic Talons -30 Feral Claws -20
3. Look at the IAS and BoS requirements from the table.
BoS/IAS Table for 10 Frame Dragon Claw attacks:
Â¦ Average WSM Lvl EIAS Â¦ -30 -25 -20 -15 -10 -5 0 5 10 _________Â¦____________________________________________________ 0 0 Â¦ 125 147 174 208 250 304 377 480 638 1 21 Â¦ 60 72 86 102 120 142 168 200 240 2 27 Â¦ 48 58 70 83 99 117 138 163 194 3 31 Â¦ 40 50 60 72 86 102 120 142 168 4 34 Â¦ 35 44 54 65 78 92 109 129 152 5 37 Â¦ 30 39 48 58 70 83 99 117 138 6 39 Â¦ 27 35 44 54 65 78 92 109 129 7 41 Â¦ 24 32 40 50 60 72 86 102 120 8 42 Â¦ 23 30 39 48 58 70 83 99 117 9 44 Â¦ 20 27 35 44 54 65 78 92 109 10 45 Â¦ 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 89 105 11 46 Â¦ 18 24 32 40 50 60 72 86 102 12 47 Â¦ 16 23 30 39 48 58 70 83 99 13 48 Â¦ 15 22 29 37 46 56 68 80 95 14 49 Â¦ 14 20 27 35 44 54 65 78 92 15 50 Â¦ 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 89 16 51 Â¦ 11 18 24 32 40 50 60 72 86 17 51 Â¦ 11 18 24 32 40 50 60 72 86 18 51 Â¦ 11 18 24 32 40 50 60 72 86 19 52 Â¦ 10 16 23 30 39 48 58 70 83 20 52 Â¦ 10 16 23 30 39 48 58 70 83 21 53 Â¦ 9 15 22 29 37 46 56 68 80 22 53 Â¦ 9 15 22 29 37 46 56 68 80 23 54 Â¦ 8 14 20 27 35 44 54 65 78 24 54 Â¦ 8 14 20 27 35 44 54 65 78 25 54 Â¦ 8 14 20 27 35 44 54 65 78 26 55 Â¦ 7 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 27 55 Â¦ 7 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 28 55 Â¦ 7 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 29 55 Â¦ 7 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75 30 55 Â¦ 7 13 19 26 34 42 52 63 75
– My average WSM is -10.
– Lets assume I am using a switch with two +3 Shadow Disciplines Claws to pre-buff my BoS to level 7 (one hard point)
– From the table I need 60 IAS from my gear with a level 7 BoS.
– I could get this from a Shael in my Primary Claw, 20 IAS Gloves and 15IAS Jewels in the Helm and Armour, with 10 IAS left over.
– But I decide to use Duress for an Armour, so I get no IAS there. I have 55IAS in my gear.
– If I put 2 more hard points into BoS, I get to level 9, which only requires 54IAS to hit the fastest speed.
I don’t like switching weapons to lay traps, but you may want to consider it if you go for the Dragon Trapper build:
+3 Trap claws – to boost Death Sentry / Lightning Sentry
+2 Assassin Skill claws – If you don’t have CtA, this gives you a compromise between a shadow pre-buff and a trap laying switch.
Guillaume’s Face – With 35% Crushing Blow on it, it is hard to choose any other helm. Add in the fact it has 15% Deadly Strike, 30% FHR and +15 Strength and you need look no further. Socket with whatever you need to fill holes in your equipment. An Ambergris Jewel of Fervour is probably going to be you best choice. If you are using a runeword armour, this is the only place other than your Primary claw that you can get IAS.
Fortitude – Do I need to give a reason why? The 300% Damage bonus and the resists make this the number one choice. If you have it that is.
Chains of Honour – Huge resists and damage to demons and undead make this a good choice, but not as good as Fortitude.
Natalya’s Shadow – If you can’t afford the top two, you may want to consider socketing this with three Ruby Jewels for up to 120% ED. With it’s life per level and +2 Shadow skills it almost gives you a mini Fortitude. Other decent damage jewels are also an option. You could also use a plain 4os armour or Jewellers armour to the same effect.
Duress – A great offensive armour, for those on a more limited budget.
Shaftstop – 30% Damage Reduction and a nice life boost. The best choice if you need better defence.
Lionheart – Cheap, but Duress is better.
Treachery – The ctc Fade will overwrite BoS, but you get a lvl 15 Venom free. The IAS is not important as we will use BoS. I don’t think it is a useful armour for this build. Mainly listed here for the “What about Treachery?” questions.
Verdungo’s Hearty Coil – Up to 15% damage reduction and a nice life boost makes this the best pick if you don’t need the life leech.
String of Ears – Up to 15% damage reduction and life leech. If you need the leech, this is the best choice.
Crafted Blood Belt – Gives some nice Open Wounds and possible other mods, but I think the damage reduction from either of the other two belts is preferable.
There are some great choices here, all have good points to recommend them:
Laying of Hands – A big boost to damage thanks to the 350% Damage to Demons and Fire Resistance. 20% IAS too.
Trang Oul’s Claws – 25% more poison damage that gets applied twice, once when you cast venom and once when you hit. 30% Cold Resistance doesn’t hurt either.
Dracul’s Grasp – Open Wounds and the CtC Life Tap. No IAS is the drawback here.
Crafted Blood Gloves – If you have a 10% Crushing Blow pair with some nice resists and 20IAS, this is a great choice.
Ghoulhide / Gravepalm – I sometimes keep these in the stash for A2, where there are more undead and less demons, instead of Laying of Hands. Dracul’s works better though I think, as skeletons are unleechable without life tap.
Gore Rider – 15% CB, 15% DS and 10% OW. There really isn’t any other pair of boots to be recommended.
Goblin Toe – With 25% Crushing Blow, these could be OK if you can’t get gores. BoS will compensate for the lack of FRW. Try and get the Gores though.
Highlord’s Wrath – Lots of Deadly Strike, +1 skills, IAS and lightning resistance make this the best choice for an offensive amulet.
Atma’s Scarab – CtC Amplify Damage is what is useful here. It will help your attacks and the corpse explosion from DS. Just don’t use this and Dracul’s Grasp together, the curses will keep over-riding each other.
Metalgrid – If you need resists and AR, look no further. But as previously discussed, these shouldn’t really be a problem for this build. It’s a better choice than…
Mara’s Kaleidoscope – Not great for this build. The resists may help fill a bit, but the +2 skills aren’t that important for this build.
Rare – Look for leech, stats & resists. Highlord’s or Atma’s will be a better bet though.
Ravenfrost – You must have this in one of the ring slots. You will need the base AR and the Cannot be Frozen. It is also a possible candidate for the second ring slot.
Rare – You are probably going to need a bit of mana leech from this slot, unless you have it on the claws. Also look for AR, resists, stats & life. If you have one, a dual Leech rare is probably the best choice for the second ring slot.
Wisp Projector – For the Lightning Absorb.
Dwarf Star – Nice life boost and Fire Absorb.
The main focus of your inventory should be resists and FHR. Once you have these at an acceptable level, a Sharp or Fine charm or two is nice for more AR and damage, maybe a Mentalist skiller or two if you need a bit more CoS duration.
5. Equipment – Natalya’s Set Version
This is where the build originated, but it isn’t as strong as using bespoke equipment. Your big problem is going to be finding enough juicy attack modifiers to make this worthwhile. It will be doable, but I still think a Phoenix Striker is a much stronger build for the set. I will re-equip my build sometime to try this setup and add my thoughts to this section later.
Nat’s Set gives us:
30% Damage Reduction
+3 to All Skills
+2 to Shadow Disciplines
14% Life & Mana Leech
Dexterity, Strength & Life Bonuses
Up to +70% Resist all
Up to +25% Lightning & Cold Resist. 25% Poison resist.
It doesn’t give us:
Faster Hit Recovery
Deadly Strike / Crushing Blow / Open Wounds
Weapon 2: The options are as laid out in section 4, with one addition:
Strength – This runeword gives you 25% Crushing Blow, which is your only way to get CB in this setup except from the gloves. The ED from this claw isn’t anything to shout about, so make it in Runic Talons for the speed.
Call to Arms and Lidless Wall / Spirit Shield is obviously the best choice (if you have it).
If you have another one Nat’s Mark & Strength would give some crushing blow for boss fights.
Pre-buff with shadow claws isn’t really worth it as you will drop 3 skills from switching out the last part of the set.
Helm: Natalya’s Totem
Armour: Natalya’s Shadow, you really want one with three sockets.
Boots: Natalya’s Soul
Socket the Armour and Helm for damage – 4x Ruby Jewels for 160% ED would be ideal, if not any other jewels with damage.
Crafted Blood Belt – Another way to bring some Open Wounds into the build, if you feel comfortable with 30%DR this is a good choice. Look out for FHR and resists here too.
Verdungo’s Hearty Coil – Up to 15% damage reduction and a nice life boost is probably the best option. It will bring your total to damage reduction 45% with the set bonus
String of Ears – Up to 15% damage reduction and more life leech.
There are some great choices here, all have good points to recommend them:
Crafted Blood Gloves – The only possible slot in your gear to get Crushing Blow, other than a secondary claw. If you have a 10% pair with +2 Martial Arts or other nice stats, this is a great choice for this setup. Otherwise is is one of the gloves from section 4.
Amulet, Rings and Inventory:
As section 4 above
Dragon Claw has a fastest speed of 10FPA (5 FPA Each Claw)
The set gives +5 to Shadow Skills, +1 hard point gives a lvl 6 Burst of Speed minimum.
Nat’s Mark WSM = 0, 40 IAS
Bartuc’s WSM = -30
Jade Talon WSM = -10
From the IAS tables:
BoS IAS Needed for 10FPA Level [-15 WSM] [-5 WSM] [0 WSM] 6 54 78 92 7 50 72 86 8 48 70 83 9 44 65 78 10 42 63 75 11 40 60 72 12 39 58 70 13 37 56 68 14 35 54 65 15 34 52 63 16 32 50 60 17 32 50 60
Nat’s Mark has 40IAS, so:
– If you are using Greater/Runic Talons, you will only need an additional 15 IAS to hit the fastest speed.
– If you are using Jade Talon you will need an additional 35IAS additional (Jade Talon has +1-2 Shadow skills = lvl 7 BoS minimum).
– If you are using a second Nat’s Mark, you will probably need a few more points in BoS and/or some off weapon IAS to hit the fastest speed. Remember the IAS on the secondary claw (above the boots) doesn’t count.
– Check the table above before socketing as it will depend on your final BoS level.
Cloak of Shadows eliminates the need for a defensive mercenary. Burst of Speed covers you attack speed and Dragon Claw needs no AR boost. So Faith mercs are not required. What we do need is a damage boost, and as much of it as possible. And the best way to get that is Decrepify for the huge reduction in you enemies physical resistance. Of course it also boosts the physical damage from Corpse Explosion too. It will boost you damage much more than more expensive options like Pride.
A2 Might Merc
Ah yes, the old faithful. You will be wanting to give him The Reaper’s Toll for the 33% chance to cast decrepify. I recommend either Treachery or Fortitude for the armour. I think a bit of FHR is very important on an A2 merc, 20FHR takes him from 15 frames to 11. Treachery already has that covered, if you use Fortitude put a Shael rune in the helmet. What helmet? Vampire Gaze, Tal Rasha’s Horardric Crest or Andariel’s Visage will all do the job nicely.
This is your other potential source of Decrepify, thanks to Lawbringer. Make it in an ethereal elite 2h sword like a Balrog Blade or Colossus Sword. Fortitude is the best bet for the armour, to make up for the lack of ED on the weapon, but any of the usual merc armours will do. Some IAS in the helm would be good, so that means Andariel’s. Other choices as above, remember you can use Arreat’s Face on a barb merc too, which is not a bad choice.
1. Cast CoS
2. Lay a few DS at the edge of the screen
3. Wade into the fray with DC on the right mouse button
4. Watch DS level the area.
5. Rinse and repeat.
Well that is pretty much how it works. I dislike switching to a different weapon setup to lay traps, it spoils the rhythm of the attacks. Hot key CoS, DS, DC and anything else you may use offensively to the right mouse button. Venom and BoS are likely to be cast from your weapon switch. Then all you need to do is run around with the right mouse button held down, using the hotkeys to toggle between skills.
Remember though that whilst you are aggressive, you are not a tank. Without Weapon Block and with little damage reduction, your assassin is fragile. Don’t be afraid to run back, re-cast DS and get back into the fray if you have to.
It is important that you cast Death Sentry at the edges of the screen, away from the monsters that you are fighting. You can even cast it about 1.5 screens away. If you cast DS on top of a monster, it will default to the lightning attack. If you cast it further away, it will not waste lightning shots and will wait until you get a corpse before using Corpse Explosion. This allows you to choose which attack it uses by how close you cast it to an enemy, without wasting shots and having to re-cast it more frequently.
8. List of Abbreviations
AR – Attack Rating
BoS- Burst of Speed
C/C – Claw Claw, ie using a claw on each hand
CB – Crushing Blow
CM – Claw Mastery
CoS- Cloak of Shadows
ctc – Chance to Cast
DC – Dragon Claw
DF – Dragon Flight
%DR – % Physical Damage Reduction
DS – Death Sentry
FHR – Fast Hit Recovery
FCR- Faster Cast Rate
FRW – Faster Run / Walk
IAS – Increased Attack Speed
ITD – Ignore Target’s Defense
LCS – Lying Character Screen. The screen that shows your stats, damage etc., with varying accuracy.
LS – Lightning Sentry
MA – Martial Arts
MB – Mind Blast
MP – Multi Player – Either on BNet or over TCPIP
OW – Open Wounds
Res – Resistance
SM – Shadow Master
WB – Weapon Block
WSM – Weapon Speed Modifier
WW – Whirlwind
3os – 3 Open Sockets