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Trapassin by lMarcusl
The Trapassin is a “spellcaster” Assassin build that relies on stationary Traps to do all its killing. It forgoes the use of summons to focus more heavily on Trap damage and adds in a thick slice of crowd control to keep enemies nice and clustered for her traps to do their work.
This guide was written and tested for an untwinked, self-found playthrough across all difficulties using patch 1.14d.
The Trapassin is built primarily around Lightning Sentry and Death Sentry as her main damage sources. These traps offer outstanding rate of fire, solid damage and good clear thanks to piercing projectiles and AoE corpse explosions. In order to circumvent issues with Immunities on Hell difficulty, this build’s secondary focus is on the fire portion of the Trap tree, namely Wake of Inferno. Now, while your traps will be doing all the dirty work for you, the build does not play quite like a summoner build. Since traps do not draw any aggro onto themselves like summons do, you do not have the luxury of just standing around and watching as things die. It will be you and your hireling (either Holy Freeze Mercenary or a Barbarian if you feel a bit adventurous) who will draw all the aggro, and you need to keep both of you alive. Thankfully, Assassins come with a pair of utterly ridiculous crowd control abilities in the form of Mind Blast and Cloak of Shadows, to keep enemies either fighting each other or blinded.
Aside from always paying attention to how things are going on the frontline and whether your hireling requires some assistance through timely crowd control, another aspect that keeps this build highly involved in combat is trap placement. Just like monsters, summons or hirelings, your traps will target the closest enemy. When cast into a cluster of monsters, your traps’ shots will go all over the place as each will target an enemy closest to it. It is therefore best in most cases to place traps in a cluster further away from the pack so that their fire can pierce as many enemies as possible and they can all, ideally, focus down the same target to allow for your Death Sentries to take over the killing duties. At the same time, monster immunities on Hell will mean you need to pick your trap placement carefully, since you don’t want your Lightning Sentries to be firing on a Lightning Immune Scarab Demon when there is a Greater Mummy you want to kill on the backline. In those cases you want to place your traps as close to your target as possible to make sure you do not waste any time and shots firing at immunes. It’s an intricate process and one you should master by the time you reach Hell difficulty. Add to that the need to reposition yourself and your hireling in dangerous situations, the fact that enemies will keep moving around, and you’ll find yourself rather busy, which, frankly, is a welcome change from the passive, idle playstyle of a Summoner.
Attribute Point Allocation
Unlike your usual caster, the Trapassin does actually have some Strength and Dexterity requirements for her core gear. Logically, the goal is to gain as much power for your traps as possible and that means you want +skills from your claw weapons, which, unlike wands and staves, require Str and Dex. You do not, however, necessarily need to be able to equip the highest level claws in the game. You do not care about the physical damage they deal, only about how many bonuses to skills they have and how easy they are to find. As such, getting your Strength and Dexterity to around 100 – 110 should allow you to equip the majority of claw weapons below Feral Claws, and even a slight bit of attributes on gear and charms can get you up to Scissors Suwayyah without much issue, should you find some good ones. How you split the rest is largely up to you. While the character tries its best to not be directly involved in combat, it doesn’t have a safety wall like summoners do, nor does it particularly enjoy kiting, since kiting enemies away might force you to replace your traps if you walk out of range or enemies reposition unfavourably. As a result, the Trapassin does prefer to stand her ground, and that involves taking the occasional hit, running up close to enemies to cast Cloak of Shadows and it most certainly involves trying not to get instantly vaporised by Gloams while you wait for your Wake of Inferno to kill them. Hence, you would preferably want to get to around 1000 life by the end of the game, but how you get there can vary. You might just end up finding a bunch of charms and gear with +life over the course of your playthrough or you might have to get there the hard way through Vitality investment.
Either way, since the Assassin does not have the pitiful life gain of a Sorceress, Necro or Druid, getting your Strength and Dexterity to the desired level and pumping your hit points to over a 1000 should still leave you with some points to spare for Energy. Now, your Mana consumption is thankfully not massive. Even though your three main traps each cost 20 mana, they hang around for quite a while and output a fair bit of damage while doing so, so it’s not the same thing has having to spam 20 mana spells continuously. Regardless, traps are considered separate entities from you, which means you cannot get any mana per kill from them, and you want your Mana to last you a while, particularly when facing the Ancients and having to deal with limited inventory and belt slots. While you can compensate for that to some extent through Mana gear, you can most certainly afford to get your Energy to around 50 at the least without compromising your health.
Skill Point Allocation
As a right and proper caster, you will want to focus the majority of your skill points on your core killing skills and leave it to your +skill gear to get the rest of your arsenal up to par. That means you will want to dedicate a single point to Cloak of Shadows and Mind Blast for the revolting amount of crowd control they provide you as 1 point wonders, and you will most definitely want to get 1 point in Burst of Speed and potentially also Fade (you don't need more due to +skill gear). However, a lot depends here on your gear, and since your gear changes as you play, you might end up using one of your three skill respecs to reclaim the Fade skill point once your resistances are taken care of. Essentially, Fade can serve as a crutch for you through Nightmare and early Hell if you really struggle with resistances (which you absolutely want maxed), but once you have that covered the skill point is essentially wasted. Fade and Burst of Speed are mutually exclusive and Burst of Speed is far more desirable for you. While you are a caster, interestingly your trap placement speed is not dictated by casting speed, but by attack speed. That means Burst of Speed allows you to churn out all 5 of your traps (which is the maximum you can have placed) much faster and get your damage output to maximum ASAP, while also providing you good mobility to kite enemies and avoid projectiles.
While we’re at the Shadow Disciplines tree, you might be wondering why no Shadow Master. If the build likes to keep enemies stationary and doesn’t like kiting, wouldn’t it make sense to have a summon? It would…except you and her share the same Trap cap. If you place your 5 traps and she decides to cast some of her own, your traps will start disappearing. Considering you are far more likely to place your traps properly and choose the right damage type for the job, not to mention the fact that you are unlikely to be so mind-numbingly dense as to try and use Wake of Fire and Charged Sentry for anything, I say you’re better off without the Shadow. Plus, it opens up more room for you to pump up your traps and, well, they kind of need it. Obviously, the Trap tree is where the majority of your skill points are going to end up. You want to max out Lightning Sentry to provide the majority of your Lightning damage, Death Sentry for the synergy it has with both Lightning Sentry and Wake of Inferno (plus, by the end its damage will start being relatively comparable to Lightning Sentry, if not for the lower number of shots), Wake of Inferno to get as much fire damage as possible to handle Lightning Immunes, and Wake of Fire for the Wake of Inferno synergy. Worth noting: Wake of Fire is not actually the best synergy for Wake of Inferno in terms of damage, however, one of the first things you will notice when you start using Wake of Inferno for the first time is how damn low its range is. Wake of Fire synergy helps alleviate this problem to some extent, though you can forget about your Wake of Inferno ever reaching the off-screen sniping capabilities of your lightning traps. Any points you have left over should go to Fire Bomb to provide you some middling up-front fire damage of your own, plus additional shots for Death Sentry and Wake of Inferno synergy. You will notice that even with all these points invested, the damage is…well…nothing to write home about. Your lightning traps are outputting a maximum of 1000 damage. That is maximum. Since they are lightning-based and lightning tends to have a damage range of 1 to x, that actually means your average damage is half of that. Yep, after that much investment, your traps are doing an average of 500 damage. Wake of Inferno is suddenly looking real attractive isn’t it? Well not quite.
These damage numbers were once a reason for me to dismiss Trapassins as unviable for self-found single player, but it is a mistake to do so. Firstly, these damage numbers, while low, are the base. Yours will end up being much higher, in fact likely about twice as high, thanks to all the +skills gear you’ll be able to get your hands on. Secondly, this damage is per shot. If this were damage you were doing as a Sorceress, who gets to fire a few times per second with decent casting speed, that’d be bad. But you’re not a Sorceress and you’re not relegated to firing these projectiles yourself. You in fact just summon 5 stationary Lightning/Inferno Sorceresses who keep firing for you at maximum pace. They don’t have to kite, they don’t have to teleport around to protect their hireling, they just spit out projectiles non-stop. When you multiply those damage numbers by 5 and factor in the rate of fire, your damage actually starts being a lot better than it looks.
To balance out the good news, the one place where things actually look better than they really are is Wake of Inferno. Its damage number seems nice and girthy but don’t be fooled. First off, let’s talk about bugs. Channelled skills in Diablo 2, such as Inferno, do not actually deal their listed damage. Their listed damage assumes these skills deal damage every frame when they actually deal damage every other frame, essentially cutting their damage in half. Now, there is a distinct lack of consensus on whether this bug affects Wake of Inferno or not. Even if we take Wake of Inferno’s damage at face value, however, the fact remains that its rate of fire is CONSIDERABLY lower than that of your lightning traps. By the time your lightning traps are running out of shots, Wake of Inferno is often barely halfway through. So even if it does its actual listed damage, you might as well halve that damage right off the bat due to low firing rate. Secondly, while lightning tends to excel at hitting moving targets due to high projectile speed (I mean, they should be lightning fast, right?), Inferno most certainly doesn’t. That means any movement on the enemy’s part is likely to cut down Wake of Inferno’s damage even further. For this reason, Wake of Inferno is something of a necessary evil. You do need a damage source other than lightning to deal with immunes, and Wake of Inferno happens to be the best you got. But always keep in mind that Lightning Sentry should be your weapon of choice for getting things dead, and once things are dead, a single Death Sentry can do your cleanup (my usual setup when starting on a fresh pack of monsters is placing 4 Lightning Sentries followed by 1 Death Sentry). Only when absolutely necessary (e.g. Burial Grounds) should you turn to Wake of Inferno as you primary killing tool, since its range, tracking and rate of fire simply don’t make it a user-friendly option in most cases.
Now, be honest with me. Have you ever played a Necromancer or a Sorceress and thought to yourself: “If only I could dual wield these wands”? Well, I got good news. While they are rather sharp and pointy for a wand, your claw weapons are in fact just that: a wand, i.e. a skill booster. As you progress you will start finding claws with various +skills on them. And they don’t even have to be Magic. That means you should absolutely, positively, pick up every claw weapon that drops, say, past Act 4 Normal, because you never know when those claws might turn out to be just the ones you were looking for. To make gearing up even easier, Assassins are the only class in the entire game that is capable of gambling its class-specific item or class-boosting item. Necros don’t get to gamble wands or shrunken heads, Paladins don’t get to gamble their shields or sceptres, but you can gamble claws till you’re blue in the face (or you run out of gold). And better yet, they’re pretty damn cheap too…and can be bought from normal merchants as well. So this is a given. Before you’re done with this character, I can assure you, you will have found, bought or gambled claws that give you +2 to all Assassin skills or +3 to Traps, if not some additional specific skill boosts to boot. That is already a great start.
Then come the other two typical skill boosting slots: the amulet and the helmet. While you can start off with the Lore runeword (OrtSol) in your helmet as early as late Act 5 Normal, you will want to start gambling for a +2 to all or +3 to traps Circlet once you’re, say, past level 50, and the same goes for your amulet. There isn’t really much you’ll be spending your gold on in terms of repairs, health potions or hireling revives (provided you use your crowd control properly), so feel free to invest heavily to juice up your skills as much as possible.
The remainder of your gear will have to take care of the rest. Resistances, life, mana, the usual. One thing that is up in the air is whether or not you manage to find the Lem rune. This will determine whether you can make the Treachery runeword (ShaelThulLem) to push your skills to even further heights (plus boost your trap placement to ridiculous levels thanks to 45 % IAS). However, don’t despair if you don’t find it (or don’t feel like farming it – Hell Countess can drop it). You can just as easily make Smoke (NefLum) to shore up your resistances, which, in turn, might allow you to go greedy on your Amulet and Circlet and get pure +skills gear without the need to hope for a resist roll as well. Also keep in mind that once you find your +skill circlet of choice, you can use Larzuk to add in some sockets to help on the resistance front. Similarly, even blank white claws can be useful in the hands of Charsi since, provided they dropped in a high-level area, she can imbue them and perhaps give you some solid +skills as well if you’ve been unlucky in your gambling. Even though claws can roll affixes for both fighters and casters (unlike, say Wands, Staves or Orbs), there really is no reason to waste the Charsi reward on anything else. Make the most of the options you have, as always, when it comes to Imbue and item socketing. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Well, folks, that's all for this one. Hope you enjoy playing it;-)
|Tiger Claw Sin by lMarcusl • Trapsin by Ferr3t • WhirlWind Sin by Kickin It|