D3: My Demon Hunter Spec (Pre and Post-Inferno)
Here are the specs I have been using on my Demon Hunter from nearly creation to today.
The first was used most of my way to Level 60 and to Inferno (obviously, leveling brought new skills and “Oh, shiny!” moments and there were adjustments as I learned my character).
The second was when I reevaluated for Inferno.
#1 Spec – Moving On Up
Keep in mind my Demon Hunter has been 100% duo for her career thusfar. She is always paired with Laz’s Barbarian, who does a damn fine job of keeping most of the mobs from harassing me too much. I fiddled with this spec throughout the leveling process, mostly small changes as I leveled and between trash and bosses. But this is basically the spec I used throughout Nightmare and Hell. It is a heavy on traps and CC focus.
Action Key Skills
Primary – Bola Shot (Thunder Ball): I used this as my primary attack and my primary Hatred regeneration. I used the Thunder Ball rune to aid Laz with stuns. This paired with the Passive Thrill of the Hunt helped with CC in big pulls.
Secondary – Entangling Shot (Chain Gang): I used this as a secondary attack and also as a back up source of Hatred regeneration. Adding Chain Gang made this some great CC for kiting and keeping mobs where Laz could wreak havoc. Paired with the Passive Cull the Weak, this was also good for doing more damage on the CC’d targets.
Action Key 1 – Caltrops (Jagged Spikes): These traps were my lifesaver! In fact, with the Jagged Spikes rune, they did a decent amount of AoE damage. I would surround the mob pack with Caltrops or leave a trail behind me as I kited. Sometimes, if Laz was waiting for a pot or CD to refresh, these saved him too. Paired with the Passive Numbing Traps, these meant less incoming damage to Laz and I.
Action Key 2 – Preparation (Battle Scars): After dropping a Sentry and a roomful of Caltrops, I had usually drained my Discipline and taken a few hits, and this restored both. I used this just about on CD, as I was usually taking some sort of damage (casters, mortar, etc.) and I used a lot of Discipline, which regens far more slowly than Hatred.
Action Key 3 – Sentry (Spitfire Turret): I played with traps other than Caltrops, animal companions, and other fill-in damage for helping out while I kite, and I liked my Spitfire Turret the best. (It is also a good song by The Prodigy!) I would set this down and kite around the room, stunning casters or setting traps or just plain running away, and the turret just did his thing. Also, since he is attached to the floor… I had no worries about him being a bad pet and running off to other rooms. The only thing is, I had to watch his range, as it is less than mine.
Action Key 4 – Chakram (Razor Disk): From first receiving it, Chakram quickly became one of my favorite abilities. I have played with its many shapes and usages, but I am most fond of Razor Disk. I would drop the target/starting place in the middle of a large pack and it would tear things up as it spiraled outward. It even cut a path from me to where I targeted it to start its spiral for some more carnage. Small trash like skellies and shadow creatures are the most fun.
My Passive Skills for Nightmare and Hell mode were based around my CC and not DPS.
Thrill of the Hunt: A free CC every 3 seconds? Yes, please.
Numbing Traps: Less incoming damage from mobs was high on my list, for both Laz and I.
Cull the Weak: Since I was always doing some sort of CC against mobs, I figured this would just about always equal a damage buff.
Note: I looked at using Custom Engineering for longer traps and sentry (especially since one of my common alternate skills was Spike Trap), but stuff was usually moving and dying so fast, I hardly saw use for it.
#2 Spec – Progressing Through Inferno
Now that Laz and I are in Inferno, fights are going on longer and mobs hit harder and have a lot more hit points. Inferno was quite a wake up call, and I had to overhaul how I was playing my Demon Hunter entirely. Though, you may notice, I did not change all of my skills.
I discovered this spec works well for farming lower content too. Chakram FTW.
Action Key Skills
Primary – Hungering Arrow (Devouring Arrow): Hungering Arrow has a much higher DPS potential than the Bola Shot. Bola has not proved really great AoE damage in my experience (I like it for the stun, which is still not a guarantee), but Hungering Arrow often ricochets and the Devouring Arrow rune increases its damage very quickly. Even with my low gear ATM (about 23k health and 24k Damage with Sharpshooter at full Crit potential) I have seen 60K+ crits from this.
Secondary – Elemental Arrow (Frost Arrow): Frost Arrow is pretty awesome. It provides much higher damage than Entangling Shot, and sprays after hitting the first target with much better AoE and slowing results.
Action Key 1 – ** Caltrops (Jagged Spikes): I am still very attached to my Caltrops. I like the Jagged Spikes rune best, because Caltrops are most useful to me while I am kiting, and this allows me to still do a decent amount of damage at that time (it is good at killing smaller trash mobs, like bats, fairly quickly). I tried Bait the Trap, but 10% Crit was lackluster compared to the up to 100% Crit chance from Sharpshooter.
Action Key 2 – ** Preparation (Battle Scars): My heal and Discipline regen skill is still here. This has saved me way too many times to count. In fact, sometimes I just use it for the heal or just for the Discipline. Either way, awesome skill.
Action Key 3 – Evasive Fire (Covering Fire): Evasive Fire is a wonderful “Oh Crap!” ability. If something is coming at me, using this skill allows me to blast them and the face while getting away. I only use this technique on low health mobs and mobs that are not likely to one shot me. Mobs with gigantic ouchie hammers, I still run away. lol Covering Fire is my favorite rune for this, as it makes this a Hatred regen’ing AoE attack. It may not hit as hard as Multishot, but I can spam it if I want, and if something starts to approach me in the process, I backflip away. Just beware of what you are backflipping into. lol
Action Key 4 – ** Chakram (Razor Disk): Chakram with Razor Disk is still one of my favorite DH skills. Chakram is still on my Skill Bar because it is good DPS, good AoE, and fairly spammable. It is also great for mobs I cannot quite hit with an arrow, as it ignores some barriers, so it is priceless for backline casters.
My current Passive Skills are all damage oriented.
Archery: I am pretty solidly sticking to one 1hand crossbow and a quiver, as this is great for attack speed, and somehow is just about untouchable as far as DPS goes. I am not even bothering with looking at 2hand anything or 2 1handers anymore. So the all the time 10% crit chance is nice. Still deciding if this is worth keeping around on top of Sharpshooter.
Sharpshooter: This is a strange and somewhat misleading passive ability. Standing around, this gives me about 24k Damage. As soon as I crit, though, my damage drops back to about 14k, and then slowly rebuilds to 24k. At first, I thought this to be a pretty cheesy passive, but it works well. Obviously, in the heat of a longer battle, my crit chance is less likely to build to 100%, but if it is rising until I crit, who cares? I crit A LOT. Also, it builds fast, so if I am kiting or inbetween fights, my first shot is likely to be a big fat crit to the face!
Night Stalker: Since I have so much crit’ing going on, restoring Discipline when I crit is amazing, because this and Preparation are my only ways to really regen Discipline. (Passively, it regens pretty slow.)
This is my absolute last resort skill switch out, since switching skills removes all my stacks of Nephalem Valor. I used it to FINALLY (almost) survive an entire fight against the Butcher. I still died, but it was far enough into the fight that Laz was able to finish him off solo. (Like every other difficulty so far. lol)
ALTERNATE Action Key 3 – Shadow Power (Gloom): Healing myself with my damage AND reducing incoming damage. For fights where I just CANNOT stay alive, this is my backup, and a great one at that. I like this skill way more than that over trumpeted (and now nerfed) Smoke Screen.
Hell to Inferno is proving a much harder than the transition from either Normal to Nightmare or Nightmare to Hell – and that was something I expected. What I was not prepared for was the sheer speed with which I was dying. Currently, I am increasing my Damage, Health and Armor. I am slowly trying to replace all my pieces with Level 60 pieces, so that I at least know I have an adequate level of Armor and more level appropriate stats.
My attempt with these pieces is Dexterity, Vitality, and Attack Speed.
At first, I was focusing on All Resistances and my Health pool, but I gave this up. It seems Demon Hunters are made to be glass cannons.
Once I realized the mobs in Inferno were kicking our butt and I needed to be focusing more on straight damage than so much survival and CC, things started going much easier. I am a glass cannon to be sure, though. One or two hits is about all I can take. It makes me a wee bit jealous of Laz’s Barbarian and all the shit he can stand in and take punches from.
For a career healer, this OMG MOAR DPS! is proving to be a challenging change in mentality for me!
Amazingly, as soon as I figured all this out, I switched some skills and worked on my Damage, and suddenly mobs started dying much quicker and Laz and I were both surviving better. I still have moments where all I am doing is running for my life, but usually those are mobs/bosses where Laz shines. That is the nice part about a good melee/ranged combo – we both have or strengths and weaknesses, and for the most part they are different enough the other can fill in the gaps where needed.
For all you Demon Hunters out there: How are your skills looking? How are they working for you? How far into the content are you so far?
For more information on Demon Hunter Skills, see my previous post with a full breakdown of all of them.