- 1 1. Introduction
- 2 2. Tactical Support Skills
- 3 3. General Support damage
- 4 4. Dealing with Physical & poison immunes & Miscellaneous
- 5 5. Why the following Gear?
- 6 6. My Stats Allocation
- 7 7. Skill Tree Allocation Target at lvl 90
- 8 Trap Skills
- 9 8. Merc Discussion
Hi, my name is Tragics. I play on US WEST Ladder, and my current assassin is level 90 and climbing. I have experimented with more than five assassins and at last concocted a most successful recipe which I am quite pleased with, which is called the Whirlwind Shredsin. While the PvP WWsin seems to be more popular and talked about I strongly prefer to focus more of my time on the PvM WWsin. Earlier, I was a bit disappointed with the WW “best” builds when applied to PvM because I felt the assassin simply wasn’t killing ferociously enough with Open Wounds and Venom even after some modifications.
If you feel the current open wound \ Venom ww assassin to be somewhat “slow” in killing monsters, if you like crushing ice-shattering 1 hit kill effects on Fallen Ones, kill hell monsters in much less ww hits and feel great & powerful….then you might well love this build as much as me! Theoretically speaking, when you finish this build at level 90, an average of :
1 whirlwind to finish off weak monsters,
2-3 whirlwinds to finish off medium hp monsters,
4 whirlwinds to finish off very high hp monsters or physical immunes
Diablo, Mephisto etc naturally take more wws, but they too will be slaughtered in a much faster more efficient manner. This is based on when you are playing alone. In additional to your newfound powers, you will also have good support from your level 35 Shadow Master and a level 88+ Holy Freeze Desert Merc.
The appearance of Duress(Shael-Um-Thul) armour rune word was quick to form an inspiration and enabled me to improvise this PvM build to be outrageously powerful and scale to greater heights in terms of damage-dealing. I quickly did a Crushing Blow calculation check and I became very excited. In a nutshell, this assassin is optimally designed for PvM and may not be recommended for PvP due to a nerf on Crushing Blow(1/8) in PvP. The Duress rune word allows a more efficient appearance for the Crushing Blow to take place. Yep, the moment you hear “duress”, the relation will come in Crushing Blow. As you know, Crushing Blow effectively reduces the enemy health by X% damage and is arguably undisputed in melee attacks vs.. Venom or Open Wounds in PvM. This old and familiar skill once again resurfaces but this time it adds another superior trait to the already Venomous and tactically agile ww assassin. While Open Wounds deals damage at X seconds, Crushing Blow is applied instantly on each hit the moment it takes place.
The time you took to kill monsters with the open wound\Venom trait is now more than halved with high % Crushing Blow despite the inevitable sacrifice of uber gears such as Crown of Ages\Shako or Enigma\Bramble\Nats Armour(3psn facet) for Duress\Guillaume’s Face. Finally, at long last, the humble and relatively cheap-to-get Guillaume’s Face will shine hand in hand with duress and dethrone all the sin uber armours by a mile.
Her killing blows will draw even quicker primarily by shredding her enemies in doubly-quick time with whirlwind, in companion with the additional shredding patrolling Blade Sentinel and Blade Shield. Admist her fatal slaying blade skills, she has a Shadow Master to tank her and can capitalize on shadowy tactical skills such as Death Sentry, Mind Blast and CoS for a prudent and well-suppressed crowd control. With a well-rounded defense of maxed resists, 40-50pdr and high health, you will slowly realize she’s a tough nut to crack and is extremely able to handle difficult situations.
Her philosophy is to overkill her enemies. The doomsday whirlwind of punishment are :
Ignore Target’s Defense
(Giving her a 95% chance of hitting most enemies.)
80% Deadly Strike & X% Critical Strike at lvl 88
If Fury claw ends last blow on WW, 80% Deadly Strike + X% Critical Strike will take place.
If Chaos claw ends last blow on WW, 47% Deadly Strike + X% Critical Strike will take place.
(1% critical strike increment for every 1 skill investment in Claw Mastery)
( Average 910 damage per 0.4 seconds at level 35)
75% Crushing Blow no matter which claw ends! (3 out of every 4 hits dealt are Crushing Blow effect.)
If Fury claw ends last blow on WW, 109% OW will take place.
If Chaos claw ends last blow on WW, 68% OW will take place.
Why? The special effects % do not stack on both weapons. Each weapon hit is calculated separately. Thanks to FrenziedBovine for highlighting this.
Some blows are so devastating that even weak monsters have no time to bleed before they realize they have been shattered to bits.
Using the Blade Sentinel and shield skills to shred and slice the enemy.
Unfortunately, not every monster will succumb to pure brute force. A huge mob of aura-driven monsters like Fanaticism or Holy Might or Holy Freeze and coupled with supported ranged attackers will obviously hold the fort against you especially in hell act 5. You must understand that the assassin is not a great tanker like the Barbarian who has massive life & defense or the Paladin equipped with a shield, and simply expect to kamikaze into the crowd and rock everything there. Even with weapon block and 2K life, you will be dead in literally 2 secs. When you approach a huge and intimidating group you need to switch to tactical skills which is the way of the assassin, to survive the butchering slaughter. Obviously, every class has its own weaknesses and when you need to run you simply just run for safety first and then decide how to soften \ divide \ lure the current mob. When whirlwind & the tankers cant contain the crowd, thats when the assassin will issue her trapping skills to finish the job. The assassin will generally use these four D-tools to her favour : Delude, Divert, Divide, Devastate.
1. Death Sentry thrives in its ability to blow up corpses because they do splash damage within a radius as well as inflicting massive damage.
2. Death Sentry is also useful in dealing with Physically immune (PI) monsters with its explosion. Sometimes, you will need to lure some stubborn PIs to nearby corpses. One such stubborn monster for example is a Moon Lord unique \ several champions spawned with PI.
3. Lastly, Death Sentry also snatches away other monsters ability to resurrect their slain companions.
Cloak Of Shadows
The Cloak of Shadows blinds the enemy line of sight and is extremely good in suppressing temporary incoming heavy fire from ranged monsters such as the dreaded hell countess / gloams / skeleton archers / slingers(stuns you). CoS also lowers enemy defenses while increasing your own. This is a must-have when fighting mass ranged monsters.
A Physic skill that can stun and damage enemies, as well as a chance to convert them temporarily. This divide and diversion tactic is one of the most powerful spells in handling a intimidating crowd of strong foe with huge hp. Consider blocking monsters mobility \ sight first with CoS before Mind Blasting them at a safe range. You might want to gauge how much you wish to convert \ stun block depending on the threat. The moment they are busy attacking each other, rush in for the kill. You have successfully reduced their mob by half as well as the damage absorption significantly reduced on you as well. With the additional support of your merc and Shadow Master, you can count on reducing that half-divided mob to one-third now! Is that not icing on the cake?
What works with Blade Shield.
- Deadly Strike
- Elemental Damage/Venom (1/4)
- Physical/Weapon Damage (1/4)
A New Role of 1.10 – From Main to Support
Currently, I think it is the best complementing support skill for whirlwind as opposed to the kicker or trapper. While v1.09 Blade Shield could be used as a main skill, in v1.10, forget about that. That role has ceased to exist and was nerfed to become a support skill. Live and let live. However, that doesn’t mean Blade Shield is useless now. It’s been balanced for a reason. Let’s now take a look at how best to utilise of Blade Shield.
Firstly, Blade Shield improves your leeching % already, it also deals around 800++ damage (depending on your skill lvl and gear that has elemental damage ) per second at anything that comes near to it. Since ww rushes into monsters head on and comes into far more body contact with them more often then a kicker or trapper, capitalizing on the Blade Shield makes sense to deal extra damage and leech. This is the key where Blade Shield can work to its full optimal effect in 1.10. The weakness of Blade Shield is it may have a short time duration and capped at Ό weapon \ elemental damage but it’s still the best offensive shield damaging spell among all the classes. Finally, reaching 10 skill points with endgear +skills is enough to raise Blade Shield to last for 60-80 seconds as that is usually the time a battle ends within. In hell act 5, Blade Shield hits just as frequently as WW that it is simply indispensable not to mention cool-looking. Some people claim that Blade Shield doesn’t hit well, I would say that is not true as I have personally tested Blade Shield myself a lot on the regular monsters varying from act 1-5. The only shortcoming which I felt uncomfortable with was the short time duration as I had to constantly re-cast BS. But once you get used to it by re-casting whenever theres a monster encounter, its really telling your brain its easy and a matter of adapting. You will slowly realize the additional damage will payoff as well as speeding up your overall killing blows. Simply put, whirlwind seems incomplete without Blade Shield. Theoretically speaking, a lvl 10 Blade Shield deals damage like a lvl 32 Venom and hits regular monsters often around 85-95% of the time. Note that Blade Shield kicks in per second and not per hits.
What works with Blade Sentinel.
- Deadly Strike
- Elemental damage/Venom (3/8)
- Physical/Weapon damage (3/8)
- Pierce Target (natural)
- Prevent Monster Heal
The Blade Sentinel resembles the way you whirlwind and look like cool-whirlwind miniatures. This acts as a secondary support damage but likewise, with 1-10 points depending on your preference, you can cast up to 5 such patrolling Blade Sentinels if you have more points invested. They will last for a brief moment and theres a casting delay but try staying in the path of 2-5 Blade Sentinels as you whirlwind and see how the monsters get shredded and wounded even further by these patrolling blades. One of my favourite styles is to cast Blade Sentinel upon every ww exit or when welcoming incoming targets.
Blade Sentinel is a bit complicated in its nature. Firstly, you can cast up to a maximum of 5 sentinel blades but you cannot cast 5 sentinel blades at once at level 1. There is a casting delay of 2 seconds.
To cast 5 blades, you need a minimum of level 14 sentinel.
To cast 4 blades, you need a minimum of level 10 sentinel.
To cast 3 blades, you need a minimum of level 06 sentinel.
I recommend to finish Blade Sentinel at lvl6 with endgame gear due to the fact that whether you have 3, 4 or 5 blades spinning at the same time at a nearby corresponding monster, only one of the blades will hit the monster. This means that Blade Sentinel only hits once per second at the same monster. Thanks to Hypno for his testing and prompt highlighting of this mechanic theory.
Given that 3 blades are given the same path, if blade A hits passing monster, blade B and C will bypass the monster. At every second the closest blade will hit while the rest of the blades miss \ bypass.
Blade Sentinel also deals splash damage meaning it can hit any monster that crosses its path but at a rate of once per second.
Final comments and theory-stats
– If you are leveling beyond level 90 or you want to sacrifice some more skill points for blade skills, the best effect is to : (optional unless you are highly offense-oriented like me. After all, offense is the best defense. )
– Chaos claw must be equipped on left hand first then fury. Why only left side? Generally you can put chaos claw on the right side first then fury. However, when you exit and enter a new game, the game simply recognises that the left hand claw (which is the fury claw) is the main claw and chaos now becomes the offhand claw. Anyway, most of the blade skills effects are taken with reference to only the left hand claw.
– Blade Sentinel and Blade Shield are support damage. They are not intended to kill instantly as they do not possess such high capability. They are designed to wound and deal additional damage alongside whirlwind. When you whirlwind several times on monsters, over time, the accumulative damage is pretty high. Every little bit helps to finish off the enemy faster which is the main point of this guide.
In theory, at lvl 87 :
1 Blade Sentinel 822-1112 damage (endgame at level 6 with gear +skills, includes lvl 35 Venom. It should be noted that you can cast up to 5 sentinels with more points invested as well as damage increment! Chaos claw was equipped as left hand claw.)
Total damage dealt assuming all the following above hit a target : 5173 6832 damage!!
Dont forget that you still have Open Wounds \ Crushing Blow \ Deadly Strike \ Shadow Master \ merc to add even more to the above damage.
If you combine everything, the high average damage dealt should be around 8000 damage. Sufficient to take down most monsters in 1-2 ww of instantaneous death.
Therefore, Blade Shield and Sentinel are useless at lvl one but rock as support damage when they start at level 6 onwards. Basically, you need to have the understanding that they are meant to last only as long as the battle itself. Maxing them only extends the time with slight damage increment. What you want to achieve is to take advantage of the effects of the blade skills that can last as long as the battle itself. Whenever a Deadly Strike from the blade skill kicks in, remember that the blade damage is multiplied by 2.
This can be easily accomplished. If you face a pack of Physical immunes such as Scepters or Moon Lords, you can always depend on the following :
1. Merc Reapers Toll. Decrepify removes most physical immunity by lowering their physical resistance.
2. Use Death Sentry, lure them to bodies.
3. Continue Whirlwind using mana pots. The damage will be used from elemental damage and Venom. Only use this if it is effectively reducing their hp.
4. Divide mobs with Mind Blast or CoS and take them in ones or pairs. (e.g. Moon Lords)
5. Dual immunity of physical and poison See 1, 2, or run to bypass. Continue WW making use of elemental damage.
6. A Maxed Shadow Masters also helps to deal in damage.
Dealing with other dangerous foes to prevent death
Doom Knights (ranged and melee)
Notorious spell to kill you by your own strikes, the aura Thorns is a threat when you whirlwind but you can always blind them with CoS and Mind Blasting to do the trick. WW only when they are distracted.
Nuclear Lightning blasts at you. All you need is a gear switch. Simply put on soul drainers glove instead of Steelrends and wear a TGOD belt and Wisp projector ring. The soul drainer glove will replace your dual leech ring. Once you know how to handle these monsters, they will end up healing you. Simply WW away and stock up on mana pots.
Hell Temptress (ranged)
CoS, Mind Blast away then let Shadow Master \ merc move in for the distraction. WW away when the crowd control is controlled. Mana pots away when dealing with Physical immunes.
Vipers (ranged and melee)
You need at least 40pdr to survive these quick creatures. They can smite hard at you and throw bone spears at you and especially terrifying are aura-enchanted packs. However, it is not that hard to handle them. You want to use Holy Freeze to slow them down with merc, cast CoS, Mind Blasting (stun and convert), Death Sentry them the instant a body falls until the crowd is significantly reduced. WW away when it is easier to handle them.
Stygian dolls (dolls carrying butcher knifes)
The pop splattering explosion of death is scary. You dont want 2 of them to kamikaze at you at the same time.
Undead and mana burn
Sometimes frustrating, just get ready to mana pot when your mana gets drained.
Other Auras that prove to be dangerous too, names are ordered in rank from highest to lowest threat
Conviction, Fanaticism, Might and Holy Freeze. Basically, just use CoS / Mind Blasting technique / Death sentry to divert & divide them, send dual tankers the merc and Shadow master, then ww away with your blade skill arsenals with deadly strike / Open wound / Venom / Crushing Blow effect.
Finally, any other type of monster not listed here means they are generally not a problem at all. Surprisingly, cow bovines do not stand a chance against you either as they fall just as quick to your whirlwind. You may wish to have full rejuv pots in one belt slot for emergencies. To really maximise the fun and speed of the assassin you also need to learn to be adept in using shortcut keys and quick-switching of skills.
Heres how I hotkey my skills and I break them up. I am used to this style so you might want to modify your own hot keying that you prefer if you dont like my method :
Left hand skill icon is assigned Blade Sentinel.
F3 Burst of Speed
F4 Town Portal
So, have fun in ripping them apart.
Guillaume’s Face – For all the right reasons. 35% Crushing Blow/15%deadly strike/+15 str / 30FHR
Duress Runeword – 33%Open Wounds / 15% Crushing Blow/ decent overall resists / high defense rating / 40FHR
Chaos Claw – for ww, additional great mods!
Fury Claw – ignore target defense / +66%Open Wounds and more good mods.
GoreRider – 15% deadly strike / 10% open wound / 15% Crushing Blow
Highlord’s Wrath – X% deadly strike to char level / +1 skill / lightning resist
Vergundos belt – 15%pdr, +40 vitality
Raven Frost ring – cannot be frozen mod
Rare dual leech ring
Steelrend – 10% Crushing Blow / 60%ed / +20str
Faster Hit Recovery (Optional) With Duress and Guillame’s Face equipped, you have 70FHR. The next FHR is 86%. Basically to break it, you only need another 16% FHR to reach 4 frame recovery. This can be accomplished by using charms or shaeling your Gface helm but I guess its a waste of socket.
Gears on switch for lightning nuke monsters
Highlords amulet : 1-30 lightning damage
Chaos claw : 216-471 magic damage
Duress Armour : 37-133 cold damage
Raven Frost Ring : 15-45 cold damage
Possible elemental scissors assorted elemental damage
Alternate Gear Switches
People suggested for alternate gears, so here goes :
All the gear setups are cheap except for Chaos, Fury and Steelrends. However, Chaos & Fury must be available to take this build into full effect. A poorer set up is possible but you naturally compromise damage and sacrifice some effects such as Open Wounds and Deadly Strike. You probably also need to re-adjust your leeching \ resists \ PDR.
If you wield Nats Claw, consider wearing Laying of hands too. (550%ED to demons, ignore target defense). If you wish to capitalize on Crushing Blow, wear strength (amn-tir) claw (25% Crushing Blow)
10% Crushing Blow crafted gloves
Laying Of Hands
I invested 150 points into it to wear Steelrends as well as increasing my damage. Generally if you dont want to wear Steelrends, you can leave it enough to wear endgame claws.
Enough to wear endgame claws.
Everything else into vitality.
Leave it at base. It will be sufficiently enough to cast the spells.
Max Resistances & PDR.
Skill allocation will be pretty tight if you want to do this correctly.
Claw Mastery 20
Fade 10 or 20 (if 20, one blade skill of 10pts will have to be given up.)
Shadow Master 20
Prerequisite until all desired skills achieved, usually 13pts with full access to trap and shadow skills.
When you have finished all the important skills, then spend your remaining in:
Blade Shield Ideal endgame target = 10 with gear +skills.
Blade Sentinel Ideal endgame target = 06 with gear +skills. Level 6 is the best to start laying sentinels. (Also your main left-hand skill)
Martial Skills Tree
Leave it blank. Nothing will be touched here.
The majority derivation of the WWsin will come from the shadow tree.
Burst of Speed 1 pt
Fast and good for travelling vast distances and towns.
Cloak of Shadows 1pt
One point wonder. (See Tactical Support section, top)
Weapon Block 1pt
Chance to block an attack. This will be raised to 55% blocking with shadow skill gcs.
Fade 10pts or max
This skill marks the overall survivability of your assassin. It raises physical damage reduction, resistances and reduces curse length. You will want to have at least 40-50% PDR to survive Hell. In this case, I was comfortable with 40%PDR and stuck to putting my additional 10 points to blade skills.
Mind Blast – 1pt
One point wonder. (see the tactical support section in this guide, top)
Shadow Master 20pts
She will do very well when maxed and other than Fade, is ranked second towards your general survivability. She will also fill a support role as well as an endgame tanker for your safety. Her use is her ability to damage enemies as well as having a good AI in tight situations such as casting Mind Blast into mobs to soften \ divide the enemy. She also serves as a protection bunker so you can safely whirl away as most of the monsters will aim at the Shadow Master instead of you. Max it right away.
Traps will mainly handle direct immunities of her attack nature or deal support damage.
Fire Blast 1 pt
Shock Web 1 pt
Blade Sentinel 6pts or none
(See General Support damage section.)
Charged Bolt Sentry 1 pt
Wake of Fire 1 pt
Wake Of Inferno none
Nada. Nil. Nero.
Death Sentry 1 pt
(See tactical support skill)
Blade Shield 10pts or none
(See General Support damage section, up.)
All final free points go to Blade Shield or sentinel.
Basically there are 4 types of hirelings which include the rogues, Ironwolf mages, Harragoth barbarians and desert mercenaries. The desert merc will be the perfect choice because rogues and mages arent good tankers and deal too little damage. The barbarian is a good tanker but lacks auras. Therefore, the desert merc is still the best for the ww sin.
Merc Armour : upg Duriel Shell, upg Shaftstop, levantian shell.
Merc benefit with Pdr, resists.
Merc Weapon : Reaper Tolls. Ill rule out every weapon because Reaper Tolls is simply like an auto-curse on the enemy with decrepify. If you can find ethereal Reapers, you should jump in elation. This weapon wins hands down vs.. crowd control, deals tremendous damage, improves merc hit % due to ignore target defense and good life leech for the merc as well! You even have a free open socket for your loyal desert merc.
Hell freezes over. This is my top choice for the wwsin. This is probably the best merc for the wwsin as it will drastically slow targets. When decrepify kicks in, the targets slow down even further, severely crippling them in movement and attack rates.
Overall, it increases your party damages. It is the next best choice for a wwsin with an increment of an additional 500+ damage. However, it will lose to Holy Freeze in terms of crowd control. A slowed crowd is always easier to break. Due to their slowed attack rate when frozen in a Holy Freeze aura, the total damage inflicted on you is somewhat lessened. Therefore, Might is ranked 2nd.
You dont really need a Blessed Aim Merc as the AR provided is not much. Besides, the Fury Claw allows a 95% hit rate most of the time so you will not have much of an accuracy problem vs. targets. Having a Blessed Aim seems to make your ww sin underpowered.
Unless you are a Ironskin\ shout maxed barbarian or Holy Shield paladin, you might want to further raise your defense rating. For the wwsin, you can forget about it as she has no capability to raise her defenses rating to even a base of 5k.
Waste no time here.
- This build is highly offensive-oriented and designed to kill monsters in the fastest and most effective manner.
- Be prepared and know that this assassin will sacrifice a few +shadow discipline skills and good mods such as armour from enigma or nats armour which offers +2 skills as well as the good helms such as Shako and Crown of Ages. Sacrificing these skills in order to increase Crushing Blow is a priority and will more than not offset your overall killing speed. Crushing Blow is definitely the most efficient investment.
- Blade Sentinel and Blade Shield hit well, deal complementing damages in line with whirlwind to deal further damage. It is worth it in the long run as well as the cool factor of additional “artillery”.
- As usual, wear shadow discipline gcs and Annihilus to boost +skills. Use as many charms possible to boost resists. You need another 16% more FHR to hit 4-frame recovery.
- Gear or skills can be adjusted to suit your own preferences. You do not have to necessarily follow my setup. I only use them as an example. In this case, this assassin is designed with seriously punitive damage without compromising pdr and resists. I have full resists and 40%PDR.
- AR will be around 5.5K at lvl 87 but that will be neglected. Fury’s ignore target’s defense will allow you to hit at 95% mostly except the 3 classes of monsters.
- Weapon Block. Put one into WB is enough in my opinion. Achieving 55% around end game is more than enough when you know how to deal with certain monster scenarios such as a mob of ranged targets or PIs Moon Lords. When brute force fails, tactical skills will make monsters understand the folly of messing with an assassin.
- Do not be afraid to spam Mind Blast until the crowd control is right for you to whirlwind into. CoS is your best friend versus tightly encompassed ranged targets.
- Pre-Buff with +6 shadow skill or Call to Arms? Using dual +3 shadow claws to pre-buff Fade and Shadow Master or CTA to pre-buff life \ mana? When you pre-buff the dual claws, you add +6 to Fade and Shadow Master while CTA will add +1 skill and increase your overall mana\life base. Both versions add to the defensive measures of your ww sin. In this case I would say its simply a matter of preference and your level of “fortunes” in D2. I have chosen to go with +6 shadow because its easy to buy them from Anya and a cheap yet powerful boost. My current hp is at 1.2k life with 40PDR and there isnt a need to raise them any higher as I am comfortable with it. At a 6 level difference, a lvl 35 Shadow Master is still much better than a lvl 29. Call to Arms is simply extravagant in PvM but may be more crucial in PvP.
- Claw upkeep. The chaos claw is incredibly expensive to repair and loses durability quickly. At 0 durability, a chaos claw can cost you 600,00 gold or more to repair! Best way is to keep a stash of ort runes and do continuous massive rune finding on the countess. Or trade a shako for 30-40 ort runes?
- This is the finalised version of the guide but nevertheless, feel free to PM me if you need help or have problems in making the ww shredsin. I am always open to errors I might have made, so if you have better suggestions or any other input, go ahead.