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1.10 Martial Artist Guide by CrimsonKnight
Version: 1.30 | Updated: 06/04/04
------------------------------------------------- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Martial Artist FAQ for Patch 1.10 ------------------------------------------------- <Ver. 1.3> <><><><><><> Legal Stuff: <><><><><><> Before we begin... This FAQ is Copyright 2004 CrimsonKnight (Michael Gelshion). You may only use this faq for personal use. Any attempt to copy, re-post, or sell this document without permission will result in your paying a hefty fine as defined under Title 17 Chapter 5 Section 506(d) of US Copyright Law. As of right now, only GameFAQs has permission to display this FAQ. However, if you would also like to post this FAQ(unedited) on your site, and without the risk of breaking the law, send me an email at Nevalis10000@hotmail.com. Simply ask, and most likely I will be happy to help. Also, all references, characters, and names in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction are Copyright by Blizzard Entertainment. Anyhow, on with the FAQ. <><><><><><><><><> Table of Contents: <><><><><><><><><> To go directly to a particular section, simply hit Ctrl+F and copy/paste the the word found in the brackets as well as the brackets. I. Introduction [Intro] II. Changes in Patch 1.10 [Patch] III. Skill Trees for Martial Arts/Shadow Disciplines [Skills] [Shadow] IV. Suggested Builds [Build] V. Stats, stats, stats [Stats] VI. Is a mercenary right for you? [Mercs] VII. Equipment [EQ] VIII. Act Boss Guide [Bosses] IX. Credits [Cred] X. Contact Information [Contact] XI. Version Updates [Updates] ---------------------------=[Intro]=------------------------------- Lets get better aquainted with our very deadly friend, The Assassin and a brief introduction to the purpose of the FAQ. ---------------------------=[Intro]=------------------------------- Like many stories have told, the Assassin is one who uses speed, deception, and the shadows as a means of survival. The Assassin is a unique class that provides Diablo players with the opportunity to think a little bit more than your average Barbarian/Sorc in terms of which skills to use while slaying the demonic hordes. There are three possible paths one could take when building an Assassin, either pure martial arts, pure traps, or hybrid(both traps and martial arts). Before patch 1.10 introduced skill synergies, one could make an effective hybrid build in order to utilize all skill trees. While it's still possible to do it now, it would not be nearly as powerful as going either pure traps or pure martial arts. I think you know which I favor more :P. The purpose of this FAQ is to provide some advice with skill and stat allocation for those interested in making a deadly assassin that is capable of handling her own in the now harder Hell mode. It is meant to hopefully give you some insight on the changes made to the class in the latest patch since I haven't seen any updates for the previous Assassin FAQs. Of course, in the end, you don't need to follow this word for word, and I highly encourage you to choose a build that suits you best. Also this FAQ assumes that you have at least the fundemental knowledge on how an assassin's charges/finishing moves work. If you don't, I suggest you read a more general assassin FAQ before continuing with this one. ----------=[Patch]=-------- What changed in Patch 1.10? ----------=[Patch]=-------- Well, for starters, the overall difficulty has increased substantially. What this means is you really need to keep your wits about you when treading through the harder difficulties, especially if you aren't sporting top notch equipment. However, you now have skill synergies to possibly look into when creating a new character, opening up more possible and practical builds than originally possible. Think of a synergy as a bonus you receive by investing points in another skill. For example, Phoenix Strike receives bonuses from Fists of Fire, Claws of Thunder, and Blades of Ice. So, if you put points into those synergies, the respective elemental damage of Phoenix Strike will naturally increase. However, the bonus only applies to the points you actually invested in the skill. Using +skills eq will NOT apply synergy bonuses. Anyhow, All classes have the ability to make use of synergy based builds, but this FAQ primarily focuses on the synergies associated with the Martial Artist. The patch also provided skill tweaks, new unique items, new horadric cube recipes, etc, but there are other sources that will go into much more detail, concerning the subject matter of overall changes. -----=[Skills]=------ Skill Trees -----=[Skills]=------ I will give a brief breakdown of each ability, and how useful you may find it during your travels through the corrupted realms. Again, just because I think something isn't terrific doesn't mean it is. Maybe I overlooked some exploit that makes a seemingly useless skill incredible, and wouldn't it be cool to prove me wrong? ============ Martial Arts ============ -------------- Level 1 Skills: -------------- Name: Tiger Strike Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 1 Desc: Consecutive hits add damage bonuses. What it does: Each charge increases the damage modifier of the first attack/finishing move used to unleash the charges. Breakdown: This is an amazing skill that is as mana efficient as you could get. At level 20 the third charge gives you a damage modifier of 1440%. Needless to say, that is most likely the biggest mod for any skill in the entire game. Maxing this skill wouldn't be a bad idea, but it gives you less skill points to use for synergies. Suggested skill point allocation: Either Max, or 10, or 1(if you intend to boost this with +skills eq) Name: Dragon Talon Type: Finishing Move MP Cost: 6 Desc: Kick your enemies out of your way. What it does: As the description says, you kick your enemies. However, kick damage is not based on your weapon damage, unless you have a katar tied to your boot...Anyway, it's: MinDamage= (str+dex-20)/4)*(100+skill_bonus)/100 + BootMinDam*(100+str*StrBonus/100+skill_bonus)/100 MaxDamage= (str+dex-20)/3)*(100+skill_bonus)/100 + BootMaxDam*(100+str*StrBonus/100+skill_bonus)/100 Did you get all that? Basically it means if you intend to use a kick skill, prepare to invest a lot of points into strength and dexterity. Also, a pair of shadow dancer(unique myrmidon boots) will add 83 bootmindam and 149 bootmaxdam, which is very nice. However, the boots are not exactly easy to come by. Breakdown: Dragon talon is nothing special. At Slevel 20 you'll do up to 4 kicks, but the damage modifier leaves more to be desired. It's not a horrible skill, just not practical for the later difficulties, at least, I never received much help from it. Suggested skill point allocation: Only 1 as a prerequisite. --------------- Level 6 skills: --------------- Name: Fists of Fire Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 2 Synergy: Receives a 12% fire damage bonus per level of Phoenix Strike. Desc: Consecutive hits add fire damage.(Must equip at least 1 claw to use this) What it does: Charge 1: Adds fire damage to your attack. Charge 2: Causes fire damage to hit all within a radius of 2.6 yards. Charge 3: Creates a small fire that will burn on the ground, dealing damage every second. Breakdown: If you intend to learn Phoenix Strike, and I encourage just about all martial artists do, then it wouldn't hurt to invest in this skill when it first becomes available. The damage is rather low, but using it against Andariel, and in the beginning of Act 2 is better than nothing. However, it is a synergy for Phoenix Strike, making it a strong candidate to max even if you don't use it later on in the harder difficulties. Suggested skill point allocation: Either Max if you want to take advantage of the synergy bonus, 10 points if you also want to apply a synergy bonus elsewhere, or just 1 as a prereq for Phoenix Strike. Name: Dragon Claw Type: Finishing Move MP Cost: 2 Desc: Slice and dice your enemies with your dual-claw weapons. What it does: As the description implies, it is simply a basic attack that uses both claws at once. Obviously you'll need to wield two claws to use the skill. Breakdown: The use of this skill brings up the neverending debate over the dual claw assassin or claw/shield assassin. Personally, I always opt for dual claw simply because it looks badass and is more fun. If you wish to play it safe, you may as well be a concentrator barbarian. Anyhow, this skill doesn't add a significant amount of damage, only 145% at level 20, though its 515% attack rating bonus is quite nice. Most likely, if you play dual claw, this will be your default attack, since assassins need all the damage modifiers they can get. Suggested skill point allocation: Max if you use dual claw, 10 points if you also want to use Tiger Strike, or 1 if you use a shield and need it as a prereq. ---------------- Level 12 skills: ---------------- Name: Cobra Strike Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 2 Desc: Consecutive hits adds life and mana stealing. What it does: Charge 1: Provides life leeching Charge 2: Provides minor life and mana leeching Charge 3: Provides improved life and mana leeching Breakdown: I can't count how many times this skill has saved me from playing the corpse retrieval game. The great thing about this move is it works like a rejuvination potion, meaning you're instantly replenished. Even with the skill at level one, you're capable of leeching back 80% life and mana, which is just insane. This is a must have skill for martial artists. Suggested skill point allocation: 1 is more than enough. + skills eq only adds a thicker coat of frosting on the cake. --------------- Level 18 skills: --------------- Name: Claws of Thunder Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 4 Synergy: Receives an 8% lightning damage bonus per level of Phoenix Strike. Desc: Consecutive hits add lightning damage.(Must equip a claw to use this) What it does: Charge 1: Adds lightning damage to your attack. Charge 2: Creates a nova effect, hitting all enemies within the radius. Charge 3: Unleashes many charged bolts that travel randomly from you. Breakdown: Lightning damage has been notorious for being risky to use. With a damage range of 1-x, I won't argue against that claim. However, I still think lightning damage is very deadly if you're willing to accept the fact that you may only tickle enemies at times. Regardless, this skill is helpful while you level up to Phoenix Strike, and much like Fists of Fire, it serves as a synergy for Phoenix Strike. Suggested skill point allocation: Either Max if you want to take full advantage of the synergy bonus, 10 points if you'd like to invest in other skills, or only 1 as a prereq for Phoenix Strike. Name: Dragon Tail Type: Finishing Move MP Cost: 10 Desc: Knock back your enemies with an explosive kick. What it does: When used, this skill cause the assassin to do a spinning kick that causes fire damage to everything within a radius of 4 yards. Breakdown: If you don't plan on using dual claw, but must have a finishing move then this skill is an option. The drawback, besides the high mana cost, is the damage modifier is fire damage, meaning a good portion of the enemies in hell mode will laugh at your silly spins. It's still great for crowd control, but it's a shame that its damage is one element. Suggested skill point allocation: Either Max if you decided to use claw/shield, or 1 as a prereq to Dragon Flight, or none at all if you chose Dragon Claw as your finisher. --------------- Level 24 skills: --------------- Name: Blades of Ice Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 3 Synergy: Receives 8% cold damage bonus per level of Phoenix Strike. Desc: Consecutive hits add cold damage. What it does: Charge 1: Adds cold damage to your attack. Charge 2: Causes a spray of ice to hit all within a radius of 4 yards. Charge 3: Freezes enemies for a certain amount of time. Breakdown: This skill is somewhat useful while on your way to the extremely helpful Phoenix Strike ability. Like the previous two elemental claw attacks, the damage on this isn't fantastic in Hell mode. In the previous patch, the "Freeze" duration of the third charge only chilled enemies, which somewhat defeated its purpose. However, it seems Blizzard fixed this mistake and it now actually freezes. Overall, the skill serves best as a prereq, since Phoenix Strike can do a similar attack except with more power and greater range. Suggested skill point allocation: 1 as a prereq for Phoenix Strike. Name: Dragon Flight Type: Finishing Move MP Cost: 15 Desc: Teleport to your enemies and destroy them with a kick. What it does: The description more or less explains it. You teleport to the nearest enemy and give it one devastating kick to the face. Breakdown: The damage and AR modifiers at Slevel 20 are quite insane, 575% and 535% respectively. It also lets you escape from crowds by teleport kicking out of the mess, but don't rely on it. Despite the power, it has several drawbacks. One being the somewhat pricy mana cost, a second being the lag time between kicks, and overall it isn't great for crowds. It's nice for Act bosses, and would be for PvP, but against classes with minions *coughNecrocough*, you'll just waste your time kicking them rather than their master. In the end, it's not worth your skills. Suggested skill point allocation: If you're determined to use this skill, then Max it, otherwise don't invest here. --------------- Level 30 skills: Name: Phoenix Strike Type: Charge up skill MP Cost: 4 Synergy: Receives 10% fire damage bonus per level of Fists of Fire. Receives 6% fire damage per second per level of Fists of Fire. Receives 13% lightning damage bonus per level of Claws of Thunder. Receives 10% cold damage bonus per level of Blades of Ice. Desc: Adds elemental novas to attacks. What it does: Charge 1: Sends a meteor crashing down on foes, and the ensuing fire will continue to damage for quite some time. Charge 2: Unleashes a chain lightning attack. Charge 3: This charge freezes opponents with shards of ice. Breakdown: If you haven't guessed it by now, this is my single most favorite move for the assassin and possibly the entire game. What's great is it covers 3 out of the 4 elements in one skill. Prior to patch 1.10 this skill was just something to hurt stuff that had physical immunity, but thanks to synergies, it has the capability to be pumped up to almost epic proportions. Of course, the sorc versions of the charges will always be better, but hey, casting spells is all they can do. Some argue that meteor takes too long to be effective, but I feel with some practice, and a little strategy, it is your most powerful move, save for when you're up against fire immunes. Another bonus is the damage from the fires after the meteor crashes seem to stack if you use the skill multiple times in one spot. This is especially useful for act boss fights. The chain lightning attack, while risky, can deal a lot of damage. Then, of course, there is the chaos ice bolt attack. However, where it lacks in damage, it makes up for in completely freezing the enemies, which is great for shattering those that would normally be resurrected. Suggested skill point allocation: Max this baby. [Shadow] ================== Shadow Disciplines ================== -------------- Level 1 skills: -------------- Name: Claw Mastery Type: Passive Desc: Improves your skill with claw-class weapons. What it does: Provides damage and attack rating bonus as well as critical hit chance for aforementioned weapons. Breakdown: Not much to say here. If you're using claws, max this skill. If you're not using claws, why are you playing an assassin? :P Sure, there are builds that take advantage of burst of speed and use heavy weapons, but that ruins the whole aesthetics of the class. Suggested skill point allocation: Max it, or only 1 as a prereq if you want to use a big ugly weapon. Name: Psychic Hammer MP Cost: Initially 4, cost increments by .25 mana per level. Desc: Use your mind to crush and push back your opponents. What it does: More or less dazes one opponent for a very short amount of time. Breakdown: I have yet to see a use for this skill. It does pitiful damage, even at level 20(56-78 damage?!), that isn't even acceptable in Act IV Normal. Anyway, this skill isn't worth anything, in fact you would think it would have been improved in patch 1.10...oh well. Suggested skill point allocation: Only 1 as a prereq and just ignore the skill entirely. -------------- Level 6 skills: -------------- Name: Burst of Speed MP Cost: 10 Desc: Increase attack and movement speed for a period of time. What it does: As crazy as it sounds, it makes you move quicker and attack faster. Breakdown: This skill is great. Not only do you become a track star, but you will usually get off many attacks before the enemy even begins its attack sequence. Unfortunately the skill experiences sharp diminishing returns only a few skill points into it. Regardless, no assassin should be without this skill. Suggested skill point allocation: 2-3 would be a safe bet. Up to 5 wouldn't hurt. --------------- Level 12 skills: --------------- Name: Weapon Block Type: Passive Desc: Chance to block when you are wielding two claws. What it does: Allows you to parry just about any attack with your weapons. Breakdown: Much like Dragon Claw, your investment in this skill depends on whether or not you're using dual claws. If you are, then you must put some points in this if you wish to survive. If you are using a shield, then obviously this is useless besides it being a prereq. Suggested skill point allocation: If using dual claw, up to Slevel 10(anything after isn't worth it). If using a shield, only 1 as a prereq. Name: Cloak of Shadows MP Cost: 13 Desc: Cast a shadow to blind nearby enemies for a period of time. What it does: Everything within a 20 yard radius will be covered with smoke. Their defense will be lowered, while you receive a bonus to defense. Breakdown: This is probably one of the more useful prereqs that the Disciplines tree has to offer. It's great for crowd control as any enemy that isn't within melee striking range will just stand there and do nothing. The fact that it also makes affected enemies easier to hit, while technically allowing you to avoid more hits is merely a nice added bonus. Suggested skill point allocation: Just one point is necessary. --------------- Level 18 skills: --------------- Name: Fade MP Cost: 10 Desc: Raise all resistances and resist curses for a period of time. What it does: Basically this is the combination of the Cleansing and Salvation Auras that a Paladin has. Breakdown: Your need of this skill depends on two things. If your resistances are suffering so much that you can't get through an area, this may be for you. Or, if you want to use the Venom skill, you will need to invest here as a prereq. Personally, I don't use it since I'm greedy and rather invest the point in a synergy, but this skill is purely your call. Suggested skill point allocation: None, or at most 1. Name: Shadow Warrior MP Cost: Initially 27, cost increments by 1 every two levels. Desc: Summon a shadow that mimics your skills. What it does: Gives you a clone that can use the abilities you are currently using. For example, if you have Dragon Claw on the left skill, and Cobra Strike on the right, the warrior can only do those two abilities. Breakdown: The Shadow Warrior is a welcome addition to your repetoire of abilities, but most importantly, you now have a virtually infinite meatshield. Unlike those expensive mercenaries, this one can keep coming back as long as you have the mana to cast it. Though useful, it's best if you just save your skill points for the superior Shadow Master at level 30. Suggested skill point allocation: Just 1 point will suffice. --------------- Level 24 skills: --------------- Name: Mind Blast MP Cost: 15 Desc: Use your mind to stun a group of enemies and convert the feeble-minded. What it does: This will always stun a relatively decent sized cluster of enemies, and will ocassionally convert some to fight for you for a very short amount of time. Breakdown: I personally really like this skill. Not only can it hit a group from any distance, granted they are on the screen, but it can provide relief from an onslaught of enemies. It's especially fun to convert some enemies in a crowd, sneak in to unleash a few meteor attacks, then stand back as they are burnt to death while trying to beat up their buddies. The only drawback is if you get unlucky and can't convert enemies, you'll find yourself quickly running out of mana, while spamming this spell. Suggested skill point allocation: 1 if you want to have more crowd control or no points at all. --------------- Level 30 skills: --------------- Name: Venom MP Cost: 12 Desc: Add poison damage to your weapons. What it does: Once again the description explains it. Breakdown: This is yet another source of damage to tackle physical immunes. The cool aspect to this skill is the poison damage is dealt incredibly fast, in .4 seconds to be exact! This skill would be amazing if poison damage still stacked, but unfortunately it no longer does that. At Slevel 20 it does 425-445 damage within that time, but I haven't found this skill too useful. For the two points needed to get this skill, I could invest that in a synergy for Phoenix Strike and add more damage overall. I was informed that Blizzard fixed another error and the game now allows you to have both Burst of Speed and Venom activated at the same time. This makes the skill actually practical. If you feel that you're not dealing enough damage, invest a point here. At worst it's small boost of damage. If you have +skills eq, it only makes it that much more potent. Suggested skill point allocation: None, or any number of points you feel is necessary to help you through a situation. Only invest 1-5 if you have decent +skills. Name: Shadow Master MP Cost: 35, cost increments by 1 mana every two levels. Desc: Summon a powerful shadow of yourself What it does: Much like Shadow Warrior it is a clone of yourself. However, the Shadow Master is able to use ALL assassin skills, even ones that you've never gained, ie. Traps. Breakdown: Before patch 1.10 was released, the Shadow Master was kind of an idiot. It would usually waste its arsenal on petty skills like Blade Fury or Psychic Hammer. However, it seems Blizzard sent the Master back to school, and it now is rather useful in combat. For starters it seems to always have some sort of Fade effect or Burst of Speed, coupled with Blade Shield and Venom. Also, it now does charge attacks and finishing moves a lot more frequently, and even benefits from synergies. However, it only gets the bonus if it uses the skills(ie. to get the Phoenix Strike bonus to its meteors attack, the Shadow Master would have to use Fists of Fire). And if your Shadow Master dies, the newly summoned one has to rebuild its synergy table all over, so it's not as helpful as it seems. Despite it dying very quickly to act bosses, this is a great summon to have at your disposal. Suggested skill point allocation: At least 1 point, add more as you see fit. ===== Traps ===== ...A Martial Artist has no use for such things. ---------------------------=[Build]=----------------------------- Big deal, you showed us all the stuff we already knew, where does this FAQ start covering new stuff? ---------------------------=[Build]=----------------------------- Now, you may be wondering how to optimize skill point allocation with the 110 skill points you will receive throughout your assassin's career. At the given time, I only have one Martial Artist build, but I may include more later on. Also, this build will get you through Normal and Nightmare mode fairly easily, but in Hell mode, don't expect to dominate. Many times you will need to exploit the monsters limited AI, often taking on a defensive role to safely get through certain areas. However, with patience, you should make it through victorius. Note that reaching level 99 is a difficult and very boring task. Hell, leveling beyond 90 is a pain in the ass. Having said that, do not expect to have all 110 points at your disposal. Expect to realistically have around 90-100 points. If you are unsure how to distribute skill points between skills you use and synergies, you can follow this simple yet effective plan, which being, save synergies for last. Basically if your build intends to make use of a synergy, it would be a safe bet to invest in it only after your other skills have reached the desired levels. I mean the whole point of synergies is to make killing stuff easier, but what good is it if you can't kill properly in the first place? 20 Phoenix Strike 20 Dragon Claw 20 Claws of Thunder 20 Claw Mastery 19 Fists of Fire 1 Mind Blast all remaining points for prereqs Unused skills: Dragon Tail/Flight, Fade, Venom Of course this is only suggested if you have really good eq with +skills so you can get away with only investing one point in the shadow discipline skills. Maxing Claw Mastery would be your first objective with any Martial Arts build. Your next goal would be to either Max Dragon Claw or alternate between Dragon Claw and Phoenix Strike, or you could Max Phoenix Strike first and work on Dragon Claw afterwards. Once those three skills are out of the way, start pumping up Fists of Fire and Claws of Thunder for synergy bonuses for Phoenix Strike. I chose to alternate between the two synergies, so that neither attack would be weak when I entered Hell Mode. If we wanted to go for a build that's more suited for up and coming assassins, it may look something like this: 20 Phoenix Strike 20 Claw Mastery 15 Fists of Fire 10 Tiger Strike 10 Dragon Claw 10 Claws of Thunder 10 Weapon Block 4 Shadow Master 3 Burst of Speed 1 Mind Blast With this setup you enjoy a 150% fire damage/90% fire damage per second bonus to Phoenix Strike as well as a 130% lightning damage bonus to Phoenix Strike. Your meteor will do around 895-1025 damage on impact, and 822-858 damage per second. No where near the thousands of damage a Meteor sorc can do, but it'll take care of PI's with relative ease. The lightning attack will do 2-1702 damage. Again, a Lightning sorc will do much much more, but would require 80+ skill points, whereas you only need to dedicate 30 to get the listed damage. The reason why I don't also invest in the cold synergy is because its damage never reaches any significant amount, even with the optimal setup. Besides, the chaos ice bolt attack is mainly used to freeze enemies, and you don't need any synergy to do that. I also split the skill points between Tiger Strike and Dragon Claw just so you can enjoy some damage and AR bonus while you use Phoenix Strike. If you decided to not go dual claw(shame on you), you can use the extra points for Burst of Speed/synergies/or whatever skill you feel would help your situation the most. Note that the latter build assumes you have no +skills eq whatsoever. Naturally, the more +skills you get, the less you can invest in Shadow Disciplines. ---------------------------------=[Stats]=------------------------------------- Now that you've given me some crap builds, what stats are needed to play them? ---------------------------------=[Stats]=------------------------------------- I really won't go too in depth with discussing what each stat does, but simply suggest how you can best benefit from certain stats. Str - For this you really only need as much str as your equipment demands of you. If you intend to use Natalya's Odium, you'll only need 149 str. If you plan to use heavier armor/weapons, or kick skills, you will need bring this stat to around 200+ Dex - Dex is a necessity for assassins, especially Martial Artists. What good are your badass abilities if you can never hit the guy? I always try to invest at least 1 dex per level. Vit - Vit is also a very important, but when isn't it? You'll want to start pumping this up a lot once you enter the later difficulties such as Nightmare and Hell mode. Of course if you need higher str for the aforementioned reasons, Vit will be the one taking the cut. Nrg - Why would you bother investing in this skill when Cobra Strike is a virtually limitless pool of rejuvination? Suggested stat allocation per level: Until you meet your minimum str requirements for your eq, going 2 str, 2 dex, 1 vit works out fairly well. Once you're done with strength, switching to 2 dex, 3 vit isn't a bad idea since each point of vitality adds 3 hp. Of course if you're having trouble hitting stuff, add a little more to dex, or if you're dying too often, pump up vitality a bit more. -----------------------=[Mercs]=-------------------------- Hey, Chief? Should I inquire the services of a Mercenary? -----------------------=[Mercs]=-------------------------- A mercenary is never a completely bad idea. At worst they give you a few more slots to store eq if you run out of room in your stash. Several mercenaries can prove useful, granted they can live long enough. Such allies are either the Act II Nightmare Offensive Merc with either Might or Holy Freeze. Personally, I like the Might Merc just because the Assassin needs all the extra damage she can get. Another possible option is one of the Mages in Act 3, more specifically, the Cold damage Mage. He can provide help in slowing down massive groups of enemies, but he is rather weak, and will most likely suffer quick and painful deaths in Hell mode. Though, in general, with the Shadow Master at your disposal, having to spend money for a meatshield isn't that necessary. -----------------------------------=[EQ]=------------------------------------ Now that you've filled my head with stupid information, what eq should I use? -----------------------------------=[EQ]=------------------------------------ There are so many pieces of equipment in the game, I can't really suggest an optimal setup. However, there are a few essential criterias to look for your eq. 1. Claws: The one downside to playing the assassin is the damage on their weapons is pretty weak compared to weapons of similar quality. Elite claws only have 52 as high range damage...Of course you'll want the claws that want the highest attack and the fastest attack speed, but put more emphasis on the speed of the weapon. If you can do either 50-100 damage a hit with a fast claw or 45-90 with a very fast claw, go with the latter. Though the patch introduced new unique claws, I still feel Bartuc's is the best choice, especially if you give it the wpn upgrade. You receive great +skills (+2 assassin, +1 martial arts), lifeleech, a very nice 20% AR boost, and a beefy +20 str and +20 dex. What more could you ask for? 2. Resistances: This is almost a no brainer considering the hefty -100 penalty you incur in Hell mode. Try to get stuff with Resist all, so you can save eq slots for other things. 3. +skills: While not as necessary as resistances, having +skills provides several advantages. For one, it adds more power to maxed out skills. Another bonus is you can forego a few points in a certain skill that you need but wouldn't invest much in anyway, such as Burst of Speed. These saved points can be used to pump up synergy skills. 4. Life/Mana Leeching: While Cobra Strike covers the need to get tons of leeching, it's still nice to be able to use Phoenix Strike constantly without having to worry about running out of mana, or being forced to use Cobra Strike to heal constantly. 5. +stats. Again, it's not insanely important, but having decent +stats on eq will allow you to save stat points from levels. Usually +str eq helps since it lets you get away with investing less overall but still allows you to wear the eq you need. However, be careful if you're trying to minimize your str point allocation, especially if you don't know what your final set of equipment will be. There's nothing worse than being short of some str to put on some awesome piece of armor or weapon. If you can somehow manage it, completing Natalya's Odium and using a Bartucs Cut-throat as your secondary weapon will make you into a powerhouse. Other viable options are Shaftstop, VampGaze,Perfect Jade Talon, Shadow Killer, Shako, String of Ears, Arachnid Mesh, Bul-Kathos Wedding Band, Mara's Kaleidoscope, etc. Basically any eq that is hard to get and expensive to trade for would be useful for your assassin, assuming you have some idea on what equipment stats would suit you best. As far as charms are concerned, getting a hold of the Annihilus charm would greatly help. However, for us unlucky or poor folk, charms that offer resistances, especially resist all are very useful. Also, charms that grant elemental damage never hurts, and +skill grand charms are nice if you come across them during your adventure. ------[Bosses]------ Act Boss Guide ------[Bosses]------ In this section, I will cover some tips and strategies that have helped me endure the difficulties in solo mode. Granted, in Hell, some battles took quite a while to finish, but the satisfaction of knowing it was possible made it worthwhile. In an effort to save both your time and mine, I won't go into detail about describing each boss and what their attack patterns are. Again, many other FAQs do a fine job explaining those already. [Act I: Andariel] Normal Mode Suggested Level: 13-15 She's not too tough, especially if you gained Fists of Fire. Make sure to clear out all the monsters in the previous chamber and lead her in there. Obviously, quaff an antidote to receive a temporary poison resistance, and quaff as necessary, while charging up Tiger Strike and Fists of Fire. She should drop fairly quick. Nightmare Mode Suggested Level: 40+ If you did a fairly decent job collecting eq that provides enough resistances to keep you above 40 in all elements, as well as using a claw that does over 30 damage, you should be in good shape. Same strategy as in normal mode, except now you should have the highly versatile Phoenix Strike skill. Simply unleash as many meteors on her as you can. The battle may end even quicker than in Normal Mode. Hell Mode Suggested Levels: 60+ If you've made it to Andariel here, you'll have a good idea on how the rest of the game will be, except each passing act will be more difficult than the previous. However, hopefully you will have completed Natalya's Odium, and acquired all the best stuff a character could get at this point (j/k). Actually, while the strategy isn't much different than before. Her poison attacks drain much faster, and she packs a bit of a punch. Use Cobra strike in a mix between tiger striking meteor attacks. It may take longer than expected, but she'll drop. [Act II: Duriel] Normal Mode Suggested Levels: 18-20 The Shadow Warrior makes a nice decoy for this battle, especially to take the hit from Duriel's nasty charge attack. Unfortunately, there's no way to avoid his Holy Freeze effect, but Burst of Speed should minimize the penalty. For this battle, be sure to almost always have Cobra Strike charges orbitting around you since he can deal damage that your healing potions won't always be able to recover in time. Nightmare Mode Suggested Levels: 45+ If you haven't noticed by now, most strategies won't change much between difficulties, mostly because their attack patterns won't differ much. In Nightmare, you will use the Shadow Master as your decoy, and be sure to recast her whenever possible. This time you have the mighty meteor attack to aid you, so crash a few on Duriel and let the Shadow Master keep Duriel preoccupied, while the fires drain his life. Since he is obviously stronger, keep a closer watch on your health. Hell Mode Suggested Levels: 65+ The only real challenge here is Duriel really hurts now, and will usually take out your Shadow in 2-3 hits. Unfortunately the cast delay between Shadows may often prevent you from immediately summoning another after Duriel slashes her away. Since you will most likely be running around a lot, you will need to adjust your strategy a bit. Still crash meteors on Duriel, but in such a way that it forms a large area of burning fire. You will now run around and have him chase you within that area. Also, hit him with the chain lightning and ice bolt attacks for added damage and to slow him briefly. This isn't much harder, but since you're moving a lot this time around, be wary of that charge attack, which is even nastier. [Act III: Mephisto] Normal Mode Suggested Levels: 23-25 Honestly, I think the Travincal Council are tougher than Mephisto mostly because each unique can have a fun effect that only becomes more fun when stacked with an even greater effect. Can we say Convictioned, Cursed, and Mana Burned against Extra Fast and Extra Strong enemies that are Lightning Enchanted? Anyway, make sure your lightning and cold resists are fairly high, perhaps 50+ since he often casts spells of those elements. He also likes to use poison, but it's nothing an antidote won't fix. Using Blades of ice is helpful here to slow down his physical attacks. Couple this with Tiger Strike and Claws of Thunder for a relatively clean victory. Nightmare Mode Suggested Levels: 50+ Mephisto is tougher this time around, but the Council is much worse since the uniques have an added affect from their already annoying repetoire. If you get by them alone, Mephisto shouldn't be a problem at all. If you have any eq that grants "cannot be frozen", the battle will be much easier to handle. Much like fighting Duriel, keeping Mephisto within the area of fire made by Phoenix Strike as a nice constant source of damage. Combine Tiger Strike with either chain lightning or ice bolt attacks, and victory should be achieved. Hell Mode Suggested Levels: 70+ (Travincal Council) By now The Council is a bit insane. Odds are just about all unique monster affects will be represented amongst all the council members. Unfortunately they made Brem SparkFist always lightning enchanted in this patch...Anyway, the key to fighting The Council is to first clear out all the enemies by the waypoint and entrance to the Durance of Hate. Now, try to separate the large group by slowly leading them away from the entrance. Mind Blast and Cloak of Shadows will be your friend here as it will cause the minions to only chase after their converted buddies. Use this opportunity to either launch a string of meteors at the cluster, or chaos ice bolt attack if they are immune fire. Be sure to use Mind Blast every few seconds to keep at least one minion converted. Though this may take a while, it's the safest way to get through this often frustrating part alone. (Mephisto) Having done away with The Council, Mephisto should seem much easier. However, don't let your guard down. This is Hell Mode, you know. If your resistances aren't above 40, be prepared to take a fair amount of damage should you get hit by his attacks. For some reason he is immune to leech affects as far as I experienced fights against him, which means potions are now your best friends. A fairly effective strategy here is to lay down a few meteor fires, and then focus on Tiger Strike, while sending down another meteor every so often. Don't feel bad if you need to make a quick trip to restock on potions. Eventually you will prevail. You are an assassin afterall. :P [Act IV: Diablo] Normal Mode Suggested Levels: 30 It's almost imperative that your fire and lightning resistances are at max for this fight. Even then, his attacks can do severe damage. If you can, get really close to Diablo, so his lightning attack will miss you entirely. Unfortunately, your Shadow Master will usually literally go down in flames when Diablo unleashes his ring of fire. Using Clegaw's Pincers(set chain gloves) may help since it will slow Diablo by 25%. Like the other bosses, scorch Diablo with meteor attacks, while combining Tiger Strike and Cobra Strike for extra damage and massive leeching. Nightmare Mode Suggested Levels: 50+ The Oblivion Knights in the Chaos Sanctuary are really starting to become a problem with their frequent use of Iron Maiden. Unless you're a necro or sorc, you will passionately hate this curse. After releasing all the seals it's time for round 2 against Big D. Again, fire and lightning resistances should be maxed to stand a chance. Nothing really has changed, so simply repeat the strategy from before, but use more caution. Hell Mode Suggested Levels: 75+ If you haven't thrown the game out in disgust because of the amount of times you died to Iron Maiden, I applaud you. However, unsealing Diablo is when the fun begins. I can't emphasize how important fire and lightning resistances are for this fight. If you got away with it in Normal and Nightmare, your chances of three-peating such a feat is very unlikely. Getting caught in either his lightning or trailing fire attack will result in either death or death. Using eq and cold affects to slow him down will help immensely, and if you intend to pummel him with meteors, be prepared to create the giant area of fire. Though a futile effort, summoning the Shadow Master can sometimes distract Diablo enough for you to sneak in a few attacks, but most of the time she'll be vanquished with a simple fire attack. This battle may take awhile, so don't be surprised if you need to portal back to restock potions and to repair your eq, more importantly your weapons. [Act V: Baal] Normal Mode Suggested Levels: 33-37 Baal is not so bad the first time you encounter him. Though his attacks do considerable damage, he is not very aggressive. Luckily, you can exploit this by launching several meteor attacks on him and stand back and let the fires do the work. If he teleports, repeat. Using the tendrils as sources of either healing with Cobra Strike or to charge up skills to unleash on Baal. Your Shadow Master is pretty useful in keeping Baal in place for this fight. Nightmare Mode Suggested Levels: 53+ The difficulty this time around will depend mostly on your damage capabilities, and your chance to hit. As the final boss for this difficulty level, don't expect a high chance to hit, but anything above 80% should be fine. Like in Normal mode, take advantage of his preference to stand still and burn him with meteors. However, he attacks more often now and likes to teleport, so the time it takes to defeat him will vary. Hell Mode Suggested Levels: 80+ As the ultimate final boss, not counting Diablo clone, expect a rather tough fight. His tendrils now appear more frequently, in larger numbers, and do much more damage. Sometimes you may find yourself caught in between a cluster, and the most you can hope for is to Cobra Strike your way out. Baal teleports almost constantly now, so the meteors tactic is severely hindered, though is still useful. I would usually fully charge Cobra Strike, Tiger Strike, and 1-2 charges of Phoenix Strike on the tendrils, and quickly try to hit Baal before they wore off. Even with 16,000 AR, my chance to hit was only in the low 80's. As a soloing assassin, this WILL be a long fight. My claws shattered nearly twice, and I ran out of money buying potions. Though you may die once or twice, Baal doesn't regenerate life too quickly, so steady meteor attacks will always be progressive. With a final attack with your claws, Baal's reign of destruction shall cease, with you relishing the moment briefly before slinking back into the shadows. ---=[Cred]=--- Credits ---=[Cred]=--- I would like to thank Blizzard for creating an insanely addictive game that has wasted a good portion of my time for over 2 years. I'd also like to thank the various DII:LoD resource sites such as Arreat Summit and Diabloii.net for providing me with immense amounts of information. Also can't forget CJayC for GameFAQs. ----=[Contact]=---- Contact Information ----=[Contact]=---- If you wish to make any comments, whether it be to complain, praise, correct, add to the FAQ, or perhaps use it on another site, send me an email at Nevalis10000@hotmail.com. If for some reason that email doesn't go through, and you must send me your comments, you can use Nevalis10000@yahoo.com. However, I rarely check that account. ---=[Updates]=--- Version Updates ---=[Updates]=--- [Version 1.0] Completed January 12. Since this is the first version, nothing has been altered or fixed yet. Hopefully, it can marginally stay unchanged... [Version 1.1] Completed January 15. Fixed some spelling errors, and added an Act Boss Guide. Fixed Blades of Ice Description. Thanks Benny Tsai! [Version 1.2] Completed January 27. More minor corrections made. Added some more to the equipment section, and fixed Venom description. Thanks Duo Maxwell! [Version 1.3] Completed June 4. Few fixes. Corrected the error about using Fade and Burst of Speed simultaneously...darn. Provided some more info on Shadow Masters.