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Life on Hit Tanking for Demon Hunters: How it’s done and how/why it works.
Re-written on 19th of June
First of all, just to clear things up. I've beaten the game on Inferno using this spec. Flamers and trolls, this thread is not for you! ;)
If you're like me and played Diablo II and just loved the Assassin, liked how it could actually be in melee range and still dash out huge amounts of damage. Like we all know there's no Assassin class in D3. They gave us the Demon Hunter that also possesses the dark background, shady, ninja-like and mystical feel, but appears to lack the ability to survive in melee range.
I got the idea of a Demon Hunter tank back when I first tried Diablo 3 beta. I tried to look for a forum post or anything related to Demon Hunter being able to melee or tank, but I could not find one. All the posts I found ended up in the comment that it could not be done and I wanted to change that.
I originally made this guide some time back with pure damage mitigation in mind and that I would only heal through using Shadow Power, but after watching a video linked by Senko to the original guide I decided to give it a go. After a lot of testing and messing around, it seems that the only viable endgame tactic is to go with high LoH (Life on Hit) value combined with high defensive stats and certain skills that complement LoH. Pure mitigation worked pretty well in Act 1, but just didn’t have the same potential or relaxed “tanky” feel as this one has.
But enough with the soft talk and let’s get to the fun stuff!
2. All res (To about 800-900. Still provides value after those numbers, but drops to #7)
3. Vitality (Keeps it's value till you reach about 60-70k HP)
(3.5 Block chance)
4. Dex (Always a good stat, no matter how much you stack it. Dodge and damage!)
5. Armor (Till about 65-70% damage redu)
6. Strength (Try to keep your Str under 500 though to prevent wasting stats)
7. DPS stats like IAS, Crit, Crit dmg once you've reached defensive values presented above.
To prevent your self from being one shot, you'll need more max HP and resistances, either stat does nothing on it's own. Same goes for other defensive stats.
Here's my spec:
RMB: Chakram – Shuriken Cloud (2 minute AoE DoT around you in Melee Range)
Q/1: Caltrops - Jagged Spikes (Deals 45% wep damage to all targets in the area every sec)
E/2: Preparation - Battle Scars (Heals you for 60% of your max HP)
R/3: Sentry - Guardian Turret (Reduces damage taken by 15% when near the turret)
F/4: Shadow Power - Gloom (Reduces damage taken by 65% when active)
Cull the Weak (+15% damage against slowed enemies)
Custom Engineering (Doubles the duration of your Caltrops and Sentry)
This spec is a bit more balanced between damage dealing and surviving, so it's pretty sweet for both killing bosses and grinding elites, removing the fear of enrages for the most part.
Strategy / Gameplay:
You’ll have at least one trap (usually 2-5) under your enemies - the ones that are in melee range of you anyway – to decrease their damage output on you while dealing massive damage to them over time, at all times. You’ll have your Shuriken Cloud on you at all times to add some more damage over time. During the fight, you should also focus on spamming grenades so that they will hit the most enemies with the grenade explosion but with the AoE DoT as well. At first, when your gear is still not quite to the right level compared to content, you’ll need to use your Guardian Turret a lot to prevent from getting one or two shotted, but later on, you’ll mostly just need it for the elite packs. As for Shadow Power – Gloom, you’re going to want to save some Discipline for this one in case the you-know-what hits the fan, but it’s also pretty handy to pre-pop it before running in melee range, so that you can get your traps laid and a possible turret up for the damage mitigation. So in the end, you’ll have damage numbers flying on your screen like there’s no tomorrow, even though your “damage” might seem low with this kind of gear, you’ll be dealing pretty decent if not brilliant amounts of area damage to everything around you. Along with the damage that your skills rapidly deal, every single one of them (apart from your Sentry) will trigger a Life on Hit for you on every hit, tick and proc.
This is the only strategy that I've found viable in the later acts of Inferno difficulty and it's been working pretty damn well so far. As I wrote earlier, I’m still tuning my gear, so it’ll work even better with some über legendaries or something in that direction.
I find hard hitting melee mobs quite annoying (got a String of Ears with me to counter the problem nowadays though). Ranged mobs that run away can be a real pain in the “#%, especially Moloks in Act 3 since they hit like trucks and are hard to get in melee range for the Life on Hit to kick in, not to even mention in getting them stay there. I will not touch Colossal Mace Dude elite packs though – even with String of Ears – they just hit too damn hard, I usually kite them with Caltrops and throw some Grenades.
The gear you need to be able to pull this spec off is not that insane as I originally thought. The first and most important piece of gear you’ll need is a one handed Crossbow with quite high Life on Hit and a socket, just because crossbows are so much cheaper than other one handed weapon types, but basically you could go full melee with this spec if you’re lucky enough to find a melee wep with the required stats or have the coin to buy one (go and test it out!). The damage of the weapon is not really that important since you’ll outlast your enemies easily. Try to get at least 600 LoH and save up some gold to craft a Star Amethyst to increase your LoH total even further. Getting additional LoH on other pieces is not a necessity in lower acts and the reason behind this is your multiple fast hitting attacks will make your LoH proc rate insanely high and you’ll regenerate health much faster than pretty much any monster can deal to you in damage (exceptions being slow and hard hitting melees and some ranged ones). When you get to about half way through Act 3, you’ll perhaps start spending some serious coin on upgrades if you’re struggling. Extra Life on hit is useful, but your main concern will be to not get one or two shotted. As long as you’ll be able to regenerate yourself to full HP between enemy melee swings or casts, you’ll be just fine. Aside from LoH, you’ll want to stack up your Dexterity and defensive stats in total. Nothing special on this part, just lots of Vitality, percentage bonus to health, loooads of Resist all and that sorts of things, you can even look up Tank Barb gearing guides, but just replace Strength with Dex.
What follower to use?
I find the Enchantress the best one to use, because of her talent called “Powered Armor”. The skill increases your total armor by 15% which is quite good considering how we Demon Hunters have a hard time stacking up armor, because of the lack of Strength in our gear. In addition to Powered Armor, you’re going to want your follower to dash out as much damage as possible, so visit the AH (or your stash) to equip her with items with the most Intelligence on them (because followers get a multiplier of 2.5 on base stats). Rest of the follower’s skills are up to you, but I recommend using the ones that deal the most damage.
My follower’s full skill tree:
Forceful Push, Powered Armor, Erosion and Focused Mind
I find this way of playing the Demon Hunter a lot of fun and a nice change of "scenery" from my normal damage dodging, ranged bringer of death. I hope you will have fun trying this spec out and please let me know what you think!
I'd love to get some feedback on how it's working for you and if you have any tips on how to improve the build somehow, please write it down here!
Thanks for reading my wall of text and I hope you enjoyed it!
P.S. If you missed it, my youtube channel is linked at the start of the post. They're filmed by me and they demonstrate how this kind of build works out in end game :)
Edited by Aerieth#1568 on 02/07/2012 19:23 BST
Hey, I really enjoyed reading your guide :)
While I do believe it won't be that effective without super awesome gear (As with any melee class), I love the idea!
Wouldn't it be better to use Custom Engineering rather than the measly 10% reduction from Perfectionist though? (Imo the worst passive ingame). Since you won't have to spam out the traps and sentries as much, thus saving a lot more discipline.
Please keep this thread updated as you improve your gear. I will read it with utmost interest.
Edited by robinsuu#2584 on 07/06/2012 07:22 BST
Hey, I really enjoyed reading your guide :)
Great that you liked it!
I actually tried Custom Engineering, but most fights don't last long enough to really benefit from it. It could be really useful against elite packs where you don't have to move around so much. Will definitely try it again at some point, but at the moment with my low-ish disc pool, I need all the disc I can get :)
And I will try to get some more gear within the next couple of days, see how it works out and keep this post updated.
As usual, props to someone who's trying to break the cliche and the FotM cookie cutter builds. But i'll save you the trouble.
After Act 1 this won't work. I tried similar, if not the same build on Act 2. ~50k HP, 600+ to all resistances etc., you get the idea - i spend millions just to be absolutely sure that "defensive tanking" DH is not a viable option. And it isn't. As you can see my stats are double of what you have. The only difference it made is that i didn't get oneshotted by normal mobs anymore. I got two shotted... Champs and rares - still oneshotting me. Certain normal mobs like soul rippers, phasing beasts, opressors - still oneshotting me. My dps was ridiculously low. My survivability - still pathetic. Act 3 and 4 - normal mobs again almost oneshotting me. It just doesn't work.
Even if you manage to get better stats than what i had, like 60-70k HP (?!?) and 800+ resistances (!!!) - you will invest insane amount of time and money and you will still get twoshotted most of the time. We lack the 30% inherent DR of monks and barbs, we lack shields and armors, we lack any signifficant dmg mitigation skill, any serious dmg absorb or reflect. The only thing is dodge and obviously it's highly unreliable. DH was just not meant to be a defensive class. And it can't be. No matter how much time and money you invest - you will not achieve any form of decent survivability. I won't even mention the fact that you're running a "tank DH" on Inferno without smoke screen, kinda tired of that discussion why DH cannot play Inferno without SS...
So a word of advice - save yourself the trouble, frustration and disappointment of trying to survive through Inferno, trash all that vit/res gear, get yourself a 100k+ dps gear and instead of trying to survive with a class that's not able to do it - do what a DH was meant to do - kill stuff fast. However, i suppose you will be stubborn enough to keep trying but sooner rather than later you'll see that "tank DH" doesn't work. If Blizz tune Inferno difficulty in 1.0.3 as they said, probably then you may wanna try this. But anything after Act 1 Inferno with this - the only thing you'll see all day long is a 30 sec resurrect timer...
Edited by Drakaris#2527 on 07/06/2012 08:15 BST
I would presonally think to drop perfectionist and grab something like custom engineering or the one which gives more hatred and grants disc on health globe. If you are in melee you'll get a steady stream of globes and it would work out better than 10% reduction (which is only 1 disc on abilities)
As usual, props to someone who's trying to break the cliche and the FotM cookie cutter builds. But i'll save you the trouble.I need to start working on my gear a bit more to even think about advancing to later Acts.
First of all, thank you for the constructive criticism :)
Secondly, I have another character (my first in fact) that's the normal "boom headshot" kind of Demon Hunter.
And thirdly, I don't really care what people say about this matter. I'll keep this character as my side project. The other classes just aren't appealing to me (Wanting to buy druids in the next expansion) so this is what I do when I play an alt. I believe that with good enough gear and the tuning that blizz is doing for Inferno in 1.0.3, this build might actually be something that works.
Smokescreen on the other hand is just another thing I can't afford to use. Too much Discipline consumption, plus the fact that the skills I've chosen now are all must haves for this to work (not including passives)
I hear what you're saying. I've been to the later Acts on my main DH and the damage they deal is something out of this world. We'll just have to wait and see ;)
Edited by Aerieth#1568 on 07/06/2012 08:29 BST
What can I say? I love the Demon Hunter, the other classes I don't like to play so much. (Will prolly level 'em all at some point though)
Didn't even know there was an achievement for leveling up two of the same class. Noticed it the moment I dinged :)
Will probably still keep farming gear and advancing as much as humanly possible on the Tank one, but yeah, the real story starts when 1.0.3 hits the fan ;)
I'm running something similar to this at the moment, I'll tell you how it fares when I hit inferno.
You are correct. Got a One handed crossbow with +10 max discipline on it and a shield.
Now that you mention it, I think I got a better shield waiting for me in the stash.
I'm in Inferno Act 1 at about quest number 4 or 5 and it's been working great so far.
Planning on farming some gear and perhaps progressing today.
It's quite refreshing after playing a classic demon hunter for so long again. :)
When you make a build make sure to say what is it for and what you can do with it.
Added a new line of text in the beginning to clear it up. I am in Inferno Difficulty with this spec and as you can see with the runes / skills I'm using, you can't have this spec without being max level, but thanks for pointing it out. Cleared it up in the main post :)
everything you wrote here is just invalid in act 3/4.. your resists will get you nowhere your dmg will get you nowhere..
i have ~550 resists on my dh, 22.5k vit 40k dps(no sharpshooter) and i just get curb stomped act 3 and above.. however in act 1 i can just stand still and tank elite packs.. x_x
If i could play like this in act 3+ i would definately love to do so.. but it's just not do-able.. it might be in a month, when people get 80+ resists 200dex 200 vit on every item they can find.. but right now, hell no.
Edited by Oempa#2838 on 07/06/2012 20:47 BST
everything you wrote here is just invalid in act 3/4.. your resists will get you nowhere your dmg will get you nowhere..
Like I said in my main post, I have really low gear on this "experiment" of mine. I've seen some Wizards with around 1000+ resistance on all elements from gear. So I'd say it's doable, but you'd just need some really sweet set of gear. Will see when I get some of those.
Have not thought of that! Thanks for the tip, will give it a go!
Wizards are different story, compared to them we're puny squishy bastards. :) 20% less dmg from passive, force armor, prism armor for additional 40% to all res on top of the fact that stacking their main stat apart from sick dmg gives them also resistances. Stacking ~600 res all on gear is not so hard, put to that aditional 200 from 2k int (and sick dmg meanwhile) and 40% passive from armor - that's way over 1k+ res all and their dmg don't suffer at all. Oh, and don't forget also a passive 65% armor increase - my lowbie 57lvl wiz has ~3500 armor... in crappy gear... without a shield. DH can't possibly come anywhere near that kind of survivability and passive dmg mitigation while also maintaining ridiculously high dmg due to stacking their primary stat for survival as well as dps. Now don't tell me DH has higher "dodge" because i'm gonna rage. :) Anyway, good luck on A2+, looking forward to the results. :)
Edited by Drakaris#2527 on 08/06/2012 06:32 BST
But the dodge... Just kidding!
To be honest, my plan was never to be able to deal insane amounts of damage as a tank DH. My idea was in it's simplicity to be able to tank in endgame. And don't forget that with the skill set I've chosen, I'd basically have a lot more damage reduction than you'd expect from a Demon Hunter, those combined with the right gear and the ability to keep all the skills active, I'd say it's really doable.
To sum up:
- Shadow Power with Gloom gives me 65%
- Numbing Traps gives me 25% for 3 secs
I still don't know if the effect of Numbing Traps is reapplied every tick of damage the trap deals... If someone with more knowledge could clarify?
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