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    1.10 Martial Artist Guide by CrimsonKnight

    Version: 1.30 | Updated: 06/04/04 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

                      Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Martial Artist FAQ
                                         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]
         Lets get better aquainted with our very deadly friend, The Assassin
                 and a brief introduction to the purpose of the FAQ.
        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.
                             What changed in Patch 1.10?
        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.
                                     Skill Trees
    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:
                  (str+dex-20)/4)*(100+skill_bonus)/100 + 
                  (str+dex-20)/3)*(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
    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 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 
    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
    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
    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.
    ...A Martial Artist has no use for such things.
           Big deal, you showed us all the stuff we already knew, where does
                             this FAQ start covering new stuff?
    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
    Now that you've given me some crap builds, what stats are needed to play them?
    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.
              Hey, Chief?  Should I inquire the services of a Mercenary?
    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
     Now that you've filled my head with stupid information, what eq should I use?
    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
    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.
                                    Act Boss Guide
        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.
        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.
    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 Information
    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.
                                   Version 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.

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