In part 1, I gave the basic build this guide is based on, and talked a little bit about the specific varieties of phat loot you want to look for. Now that you’ve found the gear you’ll need (or bought a passable set for 40-50k), it’s time to talk a little bit about the skills. In case you forgot your ADD medication this morning and need a reminder, this is the build we’re working with.
The idea behind this build is that everybody who isn’t me is an idiot, and the skills that are supposedly “mandatory” aren’t. Pressing buttons is good. The more we can press buttons the more things will be dead, and the more we will be not dead. We want to have as much control as possible while focusing on resource generation so we can have more control. If you need a refresher about the weapons to use, check out part 1 of this guide.
Since I know you’ve already stopped reading, and are down at the comments section right now telling me about how my build is terrible because I’m not using whatever shitty skill is your favorite, or because you’re not high enough level to use it yet, I’ll be also going over what I found to be decent alternatives, or what skills a lower level character could use instead. (Lower level being at least level 30. If you haven’t beaten normal yet, use whatever the hell you want. You can tickle Diablo to death.)
My choice - Hungering Arrow with Spray of Teeth
I’ll be honest, I thought this was going to be terrible when I first equipped it. After all, how could 50% AoE damage on crit be good? But it had an on-crit benefit, and this is a crit based build so I had to give it a shot. And wow, this skill is amazing. What I forgot to take into account was the fact that when your arrow explodes from a crit, chances are your Sharpshooter buff has gotten pretty high. And since it lasts for 1 second after you crit, your AoE rolls are still under that buff. Even better, since you start most fights at 100% crit, and you can usually get 3/4 shots off before your buff resets, and at least 1 of those will likely pierce and crit again, and during all of this you’re a mother fucking crit god, EVERY SINGLE ONE of those rolls will crit. You can clear large packs with this ability before they even have a chance to respond if you position yourself. And going up against whatever’s left, you’ve still got full hatred and full discipline to rip out their innards and make them cry for their little demonic mommies. AND if you’ve been using discipline skills, all of this is generating a fuck ton of discipline. And with all of this, you still have the excellent single target DPS of Hungering Arrow as your generator.
- Able to clear entire packs in seconds
- Allows you to focus on the big guy, and take out stragglers without thinking about it
- Homing makes stutter stepping a breeze
- Leaves you without any 0 cost cc options
- Trying to target an enemy far away when there’s something between you an it can be a pain
- Devouring Arrow rune has better single target DPS
Low level alternative – Hungering Arrow with Scatter Shot
(Switch to devouring arrow at 42 — doesn’t really qualify as low level, though) While you won’t get the great AoE of Spray of Teeth, Hungering arrow is still your best generator for DPS, regardless. While Bolas are fine, they’ve always felt less affective against elites to me. With scatter shot, you’ll still get some element of AoE, without losing the other benefits of Hungering Arrow.
- Solid single target DPS with minor AoE
- Extra damage from the split is separate from crits, meaning chains are less likely
- Same as above
Other alternative – Evasive Fire with Covering Fire or Displace
Evasive fire is one of the most underrated skills available to Demon Hunters. While you lose a good bit of DPS over Hungering Arrow, you have to take into account the ability to both kite and shoot at the same time. The majority of your DPS should be coming from consumers, anyway which you’ll be able to use more often with the extra hatred regen. If you’re using covering fire, you’ll be doing some solid AoE, and hitting targets up close with multiple shots. Displace means you backflip less often.
- Can kite & attack at the same time
- Adds additional option for movement
- 33% more hatred regen than other primaries
- Impossible to turn off backflip when you don’t want it
- Extremely fast monsters are very difficult with this ability
- Has issues in confined spaces or when backed into a corner
My choice - Elemental Arrow with Lightning Bolts/Screaming Skull
You can’t be evil ninja Legolas if you don’t have a giant arrow that goes through things. Ours, also just so happens to be our primary form of crowd control. At higher levels, you’ll notice we’ve got two runes here that more or less work the same way. If your crit chance (without Sharpshooter) is below 30-35%, you should always use Screaming Skull. If it’s above ~45%, you’ll probably want to use lightning bolts. It’s also worth noting, that you should use this over Hungering Arrow for AoE damage when the packs are lined up properly.
“But Ferret, I am the average player with a character between level 52 and 60 with gear that ranges somewhere between mid-hell and early to mid inferno. My crit is between 30 and 45 percent! What do I do?!” shouted the majority of you reading this guide. Well, there’s pros and cons to each. Fear is hands down a better CC than a stun, as a feared enemy will spend 1.5 seconds not turning you into a demon hunter scented blob on the floor. However, having your proc linked to your crits has benefits, too. While you don’t necessarily control when it happens, you’ll have a better idea of the times when it’ll happen, and you’ve got to a certain extent, the ability to have bigger bursts of stuns. Personally, I like making my big numbers more awesome, so I took lightning bolts. But they’re both pretty equal in terms of power at that gear level.
- Does solid DPS with your crowd control
- Low hatred cost
- Lots of choke points to make this super effective
- Doesn’t help when surrounded, or against spread packs
Low level alternative - Elemental Arrow with Frost Arrow
Yeah, I took Elemental Arrow out behind the alley and fucked it. What of it? It’s a good skill, alright? Unfortunately when your back is to the wall, and the swarms of hell are devouring your flesh, Frost Arrow isn’t going to do much to help you. However, with a good amount of stutter stepping, groups of enemies will never be able to reach you. You also are able to control more spread packs than you would otherwise.
- Able to control larger packs
- Elemental Arrow is still awesome
- Doesn’t make killey things less killey
- Ineffective against faster enemies and teleporters
Boss alternative - Impale with Grievous Wounds
Impale is hands down your best single target DPS ability. It lets you consume a lot of hatred quickly, without having to stand still to do so. Grievous wounds is the obvious choice for this build. From what I can tell, the extra 100% damage is additive to your critical hit damage. In other words, you’re going to fuck up some demons. So your crits with this skill should then be doing at absolute minimum ~750% weapon damage. Instant cast. And if you’re throwing them after a long kiting session, or at the beginning of a battle, you can get a good 3-4 guaranteed crits off with this. While this is almost always your best choice for boss fights, as well as certain elite packs, you can definitely use your other ability as well if you’re rolling with 5 valor stacks (it’s a lot of loot).
- Great single target DPS
- Able to use on the move
- Have to rely on other skills for crowd control
- Have to rely on other skills for AoE
- High hatred cost
My choice – Caltrops with Bait the Trap
This is a deceiving skill. It’s tempting to drop these like mad, but that’s not the right way to go about it. You’ll want to save your discipline for your oh shit buttons, or when you’re going to be able to spam one of your main hatred consumers for several seconds. As for the reasoning it should be pretty obvious. We like big numbers. This makes more big numbers. What’s the problem?
- Allows Caltrops to do double duty as both offensive and defensive
- Helps you to generate more discipline
- I LIKE BIG NUMBERS
- Slow can be ineffective on faster enemies
- Need to be able to stand mostly still to take advantage of the crit bonus
Low level alternative – Caltrops with Torturous Ground
When you’re done crying yourself to sleep because you want to be like me in every way possible, but you’re still too low level, you can cheer up a bit because Torturous ground is a great crows control ability. AoE root for a low discipline cost makes pretty much your best option for crowd control on packs of enemies. And you still get the slow on top of that. Meaning less dead you. Hooray!
- Good AoE crowd control
- I DO NOT LIKE LESS BIG NUMBERS
“Oh shit!” buttons
My choice – Shadow Power with Gloom
Trust me, I tried them all. While every defensive ability has times where its the best choice, this one seems to be the best way to be not dead. Vortexed into an arcane sentry? The 65% damage reduction might just get you out alive. 10% health with health potion on cooldown and no health orbs around? Now you have a way to heal yourself. Just make sure you’re popping it before you take a fuck load of damage, not after.
- Gives a way to avoid damage, and heal when that fails
- Duration is long enough to keep it up for a significant amount of time
- If you take enough damage you’ll still get killed
- Doesn’t offer any mobility
Low level alternative – Shadow Power with Blood Moon
While the main use of Shadow Power for me is to mitigate damage, rather than healing damage that you’ve already taken. Regardless, before hell difficulty (at which point you should have unlocked Gloom), this skill should suffice for the majority of situations. Unfortunately you can’t summersault enemies to death when you cock up a boss fight, and smoke bomb is laughable unless you’re against a jailer. This is what I used leveling, and it should work fine for you as well.
- While you won’t avoid the “unavoidable” damage, you’ll be able to recover from it
- Able to kinda sorta tank packs of mobs if you’ve got the hatred to throw out good DPS
- Leaves you without a way to mitigate or avoid damage
- If you’ve got enough vitality, you won’t be healing much against smaller groups
Other alternative – Smoke Screen with Special Recipe
I’ve never been a fan of Smoke Bomb. Aside from the fact that it used to be considered a mandatory skill, along with Preparation (which is enough for me to keep it off my bars), I’m also not into the kind of skill where you either have to keep it up until things are dead, or you die. Regardless, it’s most useful feature comes form the ability to break out of most CCs using this, and the recent nerf hasn’t changed that. When the RNG gods decide that I’m a bit too much of a demigod/adonis/ladykiller and want to take me down a notch, they put me up against a frozen jailer arcane sentry. When they do that, I usually switch to this (those smug RNG gods).
- Only way to break out of most crowd control abilities
- Allows you to avoid being attacked for a (very) short period of time
- Reliant on health potions and orbs to heal
- Doesn’t avoid AoE damage
- 1 second is not a very long time to recover the situation
Other other alternative – Vault with Tumble
When I was a noob like you, I used to swear by vault. Its utility at lower levels is enough to make a fledgling demon hunter come all over himself. But once enemies get more powerful, it just doesn’t cut it. Oh sure, it’s a great skill, and it’s the only way to pass through enemies, but it doesn’t break CC, and if you’re mindful of your surroundings its rare to be in a situation where the only way to survive is to pass through a pack of mobs. Still, it’s useful for certain fights, and it’s worth mentioning as an alternative.
- Able to move out of any situation where you have control of your character
- Can move to health orbs quickly
- Only way to pass through enemies
- Reliant on health potions and orbs to heal
- Doesn’t break CC
- Damage that can be avoided with vault can be avoided without it
- Useless against the things that’ll actually kill you
- Discipline costs are too high for what it gives you
My choice – Sentry with Guardian Turret
This is a slot that I’m personally still experimenting with. Those of you who read part 1 before I updated it will notice that I previously had what is currently my secondary in this slot, and my current secondary here as crowd control. I found that I just wasn’t using Impale enough on non-boss fights to warrant its usage here, especially since the “kill them before they kill you” strategy doesn’t work too well on Inferno. Guardian Turret works well with this build because it’s still pulling from your discipline pool, you shouldn’t need to drop it incredibly often. What your bubble of more not dieingness allows is for you to pick the right moment (remember: patience, positioning, timing) to throw down this and Caltrops, stun lock as long as possible, use Shadow Power at the last second before taking damage, and give yourself a bit of a “tank” phase. Plus a little bit of extra DPS to make up for that shitty weapon that you’re using. (Did you think I haven’t been watching? Go buy a better one.) Don’t think you can go out and just soak up everything, though I’ll talk more about how to use this effectively in part 3.
- More DPS means more dead things
- Good survivability enhancement for a reasonable discipline cost
- I’d prefer something that helps with crowd control and/or kiting here (with a discipline cost we can afford)
- Picking the wrong moment to use this can be catastrophic, leaving you discipline starved without a good chance to replenish it
Low level alternative – Anything
Sorry guys, this was an adjustment I made way late and I don’t have any scrub tips to give you scrubs on this one. Don’t go with something that’ll eat a lot of discipline.
Other alternative – Rain of Vengeance with Stampede
I had some success with this as well, and it might actually be the superior choice in a lot of situations. But in case I haven’t made this clear I LIKE PUSHING BUTTONS which makes this not a good choice for me. Choosing something that might be technically inferior because I find it more fun?! BURN THE WITCH! I personally think the duration is too short to use it, but the results are similar to using Sentry. The ability to have tank phases during which you can unload everything you’ve got into whatever enemy’s entrails you’d most like decorating the walls.
- 0 discipline cost allows for more movement and more Shadow Powers
- Actually prevents attacks as opposed to letting you absorb them better
- Long cooldown means less button pressing
- Small radius makes it easy to misplace which can be pretty bad for your health.
Companion with Ferret Companion
Alright, just hear me out here. It’s a ferret. It follows you around and kills shit for you. It’s almost like I’m right there fighting by your side. And it’s GOD DAMNED FERRET! Isn’t that enough? What, you want some sort of “gameplay justification” for it? Believe it or not, I’ve got one. In fact, I’ve got 2.
First, with all of the badassery inside of you, the single biggest factor to your DPS and survival is going to be your gear. The best way to get more gear? More gold. You know what gives you more gold? A mother fucking ferret!
Sure, you could drop the amethyst in your helmet, and take an emerald instead. If you did that, however, you’d never be as good as me. If you’re using your defensive and caltrops effectively, you’re not going to have the discipline to spare for another ability. The only thing that you could use is Vault with acrobatics, which just doesn’t offer enough for me. Also fuck prep.
Okay, fine here’s the alternatives.
Low level alternative – Vault with Acrobatics
Well if you can’t have a ferret yet, you’ve got to have something, right? There’s a few boss fights, where I feel this really is necessary to use, but for the most part, it just doesn’t get you out of situations that Shadow Power doesn’t. Regardless, for all you scrubs out there, this is the scrub skill you can use until you earn your Ferret of honor.
- Everything listed about vault earlier, plus no discipline cost
- I like pushing buttons. This is a button that I can’t push as much.
- Everything listed about vault earlier
Other alternative – Any defensive listed above
If you really hate me (why do you hate me?), and you really just can’t stand the though of having my people by your side in combat, any of the other defensive abilities I listed could certainly go in this slot, giving you additional oh shit options when you’ve really fucked up. If that happens, however, you’re doing something wrong.
- Able to get out of those very small number of cases you couldn’t escape normally
- Gives you another button to press
- Discipline will get low
- No ferrets by your side!
Other alternative – Preparation with Battle Scars
I don’t like prep. If you’re using this for discipline you’re not playing right, so basically it amounts to another health potion. It’s boring, it doesn’t do anything fun, and it’s a crutch. But if you want a crutch, here you go. You just gave up your legion of ferrety doom for a health potion, you worthless sack of shit. You’re dead to me.
- Less money spent on health potions
- More discipline and more health lets you do more things
- If you’re needing to use this, you’re either undergeared or playing wrong
- I like pushing buttons, and this is the button you get to push the least
- Fuck prep
- No seriously, fuck prep
There’s not a whole lot to say here, since the build is completely built around Sharpshooter, Archery, and Night Stalker. However, Sharpshooter is a level 50 skill so I just wanted to quickly mention that if you’re below that level, I recommend using either Steady Aim, or Cull the Weak. At that level, most of your crowd control abilities are slows, which means that you’ll spend most of your time more than 10 yards away from things, and (obviously) you’ll be slowing things, making both of these viable alternatives.
So now you’ve got your skills down (unless you took prep over ferrets, in which case you’re a terrible person and have nothing down). In part 3, I’ll be going over how to actually play this properly, and the boss fights you might need to adjust for.