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Assassin Leveling Guide

Assassin Leveling

Introduction

The Assassin Leveling Guide provides you with all the necessary information to get your favorite Character started!
Not every Skill is suitable to be used during early leveling for three reasons:

  • Only a number of Skills work well without any previously farmed gear.
  • A lot of builds lack damage during the leveling phase. It can become a big struggle or even straight up impossible to progress starting with an end game build.
  • Some builds have a hard time transitioning into hell due to Immunities.

We provide you with step by step Skill trees and easily accessible items that help you in your play through. Additionally, you get tips and insights on how to deal with Immunities and the more difficult fights.

Gear used in this guide
Wake of Fire
Lightning Sentry
Death Sentry
Burst of Speed

At the end of this Guide you'll have a Level 75 Assassin that used 1 out of the 3 respecs the game provides. You can use these to transition into your build of choice.
If you like the build at the end of this guide, check out the Lightning Sentry Assassin Guide, which continues this build to the end game.


Progression

The Assassin Leveling Guide utilizes Fire Blast and Wake of Fire in Normal and early Nightmare then transitions into Lightning Sentry and Death Sentry for Nightmare and Hell.

Act 1 N<br>(Up to Level 13)
Use the Slider for visual Skill Progression

Skill Point Allocation

Level 2-5: Fire Blast
Den of Evil: Claw Mastery
Level 6-7: Burst of Speed
Level 8: Fire Blast
Level 9-11: Burst of Speed
Level 12-13: Wake of Fire

Attribute Allocation

Level 2-3: All into Energy
Level 4-10: All into Vitality
Level 11: All into Strength
Level 12-13: All into Vitality


Playstyle & Progression

  • Clear out the Den of Evil and pick up items to sell, like Rings, Amulets, Charms, etc. Start using Fire Blast at Level 2. Aim into the center of monster groups to make use of the Area of Effect.
  • Return to town, sell the items to Charsi and purchase a Dagger and equip it. Buy some Life, Mana and Stamina Potions. Add both the Tome of Town Portal, and the Tome of Identify if possible.
  • Pick up a couple of Chipped Gems and put them into your Stash. You can use them to repair the expensive Lower Resist and Teleport Charges by putting 1 Chipped Gem + 1 Ort Rune and the Charges-item into the Horadric Cube and hit Transmute.
  • From this point onwards, Elite Groups are your primary focus when it comes to killing monsters. Don't waste your time with individual monsters. They grant far less Experience!
    Buff yourself with Burst of Speed at Level 6 and keep it up at all times! Pick up Strangling Gas Potion and put them into your secondary Weapon Swap to use them against Elite Groups before you finish them off with Fire Blast.
  • Fight your way to the Black Marsh. Find the Waypoint and start farming The Countess inside the Forgotten Tower for the Runes listed in Gear Checklist. Put the Runes into your Stash for storage.
    Check Charsi for the 2 Socketed Body Armor, and 2 Socketed Helmet at the start of each run. Buy a 2 Socketed Short Staff from Akara when you need to get more potions.
  • Primarily use Wake of Fire when you hit Level 12. This "set and forget" Trap destroys enemies. Simply put them down as you run through an Area to get free Experience!. You don't need Strangling Gas Potion anymore at this point. Put down 2 Wake of Fire Traps and use Fire Blast against single targets and Act bosses to maximize your damage.
  • After acquiring all Runes, make your way to the Catacombs Level 4, where you face the first Act boss, Andariel - Maiden of Anguish.

Gear Checklist

ItemWhereNote
Short StaffShop at Akara
after the Den of Evil
This Staff is used for the Runeword Leaf later on.
Make sure it is a Short Staff, not a Long Staff!
Strangling Gas PotionsDrop from monsters / chestsTip: Their Quantity can be restored to maximum by selling and repurchasing them from a Vendor.
1-2 2 Socketed HelmetsShop at Charsi
or drop from monsters
The first Helmet is used to put Ral Runes into. The second one is used for the Runeword Lore later on.
Make sure that one of them is NOT a Magic Item for the latter.
Any
2 Socketed Body Armor
Shop at Charsi
or drop from monsters
This Body Armor is used for the Runeword Stealth later on. Make sure that it is NOT a Magic Item.
Mandatory:
1 Tal Rune
1 Eth Rune
1 Tir Rune
1 Ral Rune
Farm at The CountessThese Runes are used later for:
- Stealth
- Leaf Short Staff
Optional:
1-2 Ral Runes
Farm at The CountessIf acquired, these Runes are used for:
- Gemmed Helmet
Act 2 N - Act 5 N<br>(Up to Level 26)
Use the Slider for visual Skill Progression

Skill Point Allocation

Level 14: Wake of Fire
Radament: Fire Blast
Level 15-20: Wake of Fire
Izual: Fire Blast
Level 21-26: Wake of Fire

Attribute Allocation

Level 14-21: All into Vitality
Level 22-25: 2 Into Vitality, 18 into Strength
Level 26: You'll need up to 48 Strength if you are going for a Broad Sword as your Spirit base.


Playstyle & Progression

  • Enter Lut Gholein and pick up a Belt from Farah.
  • Continue to keep up your Burst of Speed.
  • Kill Radament first, then continue with the story progression through Act 2. Wake of Fire struggles a little in the Maggot Lair and Arcane Sanctuary. Try to place Wake of Fire Traps in the middle of the narrow corridors and use Fire Blast on the stairs.
  • Create and equip your Stealth Runeword at Level 17.
  • Check Farah for a 3 Socketed Large Shield or Kite Shield whenever you are in town.
  • Proceed through Act 3 and create your Leaf Short Staff when you hit Level 19. Put additional Ral Runes into your helmet, if you have some.
  • Your target for the end of Act 3 is at least Level 19.8.
  • Hire an Act 2 Mercenary after you enter Act 4 and equip him with a Pike from Halbu. You'll need him to kill Grandvizier of Chaos in the Chaos Sanctuary and Colenzo the Annihilator on the first Wave in the Throne of Destruction.
  • When you reach Level 20, go to Act 3 and shop for a Battle Staff of Teleportation at Ormus. Use a Waypoint you pick up along the way and re-enter Kurast Docks through a Town Portal to reset his inventory. You only need to check Staves with a red background because the Level required for it is 24, meaning you can't equip it right now.
  • Continue your progress all the way to Baal. Kill Izual for the extra Skill Points before killing Diablo. Finish Quest 1 and 2 in Act 5 for the Socket reward and the Runes required for Ancient's Pledge. Create the Runeword as soon as you have them and put it into your stash. You won't use it until you have your Spirit.
  • After killing Baal, open up The Secret Cow Level and look for a Crystal Sword or Broad Sword while Leveling up to 25. Equip the Battle Staff of Teleportation when you hit Level 24. Once you have a Sword Base for Spirit, use your Act 5 Quest 1 reward to socket it. Then kill the Waves in the Throne of Destruction to reach Level 26 before entering Nightmare difficulty. Wave 5 might be a bit tricky. Skip them and fill up on Potions from Malah, then enter Nightmare. You'll reach Level 26 by the time you need to refill on them.

Gear Checklist

ItemWhereNote
BeltShop at FarahMore Potion slots = more Good.
Large Shield
or
Kite Shield
Shop at FarahThis Shield is used for Ancient's Pledge. The Kite Shield is better for movement speed.
Make sure that it is NOT a Magic Item.
StealthStash / InventoryCreate Stealth from the previously farmed Runes.
Leaf Short StaffStash / InventoryCreate Leaf Short Staff from the previously farmed Runes.
Gemmed CapStash / InventoryAdd previously farmed Ral Runes to one of the Helmets.
Battle Staff of TeleportationShop from OrmusShop this Staff between Level 20 and 23. This reduces the amount of Staves you need to check down to those with a red background.
Crystal Sword
or
Broad Sword
Drop in Cow LevelFind the Sword in the Secret Cow Level and add 4 Sockets with the Quest 1 reward from Act 5 to create a base for Spirit:
Crystal Sword
Act 1 - Act 3 NM<br>(Up to Level 38)
Use the Slider for visual Skill Progression

Skill Point Allocation

Level 27-31: Wake of Fire
Radament: Fire Blast
Level 32-38: Fire Blast

Attribute Allocation

Level 27-38: All into Vitality


Playstyle & Progression

  • Start the Nightmare difficulty by shopping for Heavy Gloves of Readiness, a Coral Belt of the Mammoth and Russet Heavy Boots of Haste (or similar).
  • Complete Quest 1 for the Skill Point and continue to the Black Marsh Waypoint.
  • Farm The Countess until you acquired the Runes mentioned from the checklist below. Create Spirit Crystal Sword and Lore Cap. Equip them as soon as you can.
  • Shop a Wand of Lower Resistance from Akara or Drognan between Levels 30 and 35. You only need to check Wands with a red background again. Keep it in your inventory and use Lower Resist against all Act bosses starting at Level 36.
  • You have acquired the final item with this purchase. Continue with the Wake of Fire build until you enter Act 4. At this point you have to use your respec from Akara to switch to Lightning Sentry.

Gear Checklist

ItemWhereNote
Coral Belt of the MammothShop at Charsi or Gheed
in Nightmare
Shop for a Belt with Resistances.
Lightning and Fire are your priority.
Life can be a nice bonus.
Russet Heavy Boots of HasteShop at Charsi or Gheed
in Nightmare
Shop for Boots with +x% Faster Run/Walk.
Resistances are a nice bonus.
Lightning and Fire are your priority.
Heavy Gloves of ReadinessShop at Charsi or Gheed
in Nightmare
Shop for Gloves with +x% Increased Attack Speed.
Resistances are a nice bonus.
Lightning and Fire are your priority.
Create Spirit Crystal SwordStash / InventoryCreate and equip as soon as the Runes are acquired.
Lore CapStash / InventoryCreate and equip as soon as the Runes are acquired.
Wand of Lower ResistanceShop at Akara or Drognan
in Nightmare
Purchase this Wand between Levels 30 and 35. You only need to check Wands with red backgrounds at this range.
Mandatory:
1x Tal Rune
1x Thul Rune
2x Ort Runes
1x Amn Rune
1x Sol Rune
Farm at The Countess
in Nightmare
These Runes are used for:
- Spirit
- Lore
Optional:
More Ort Runes
Farm at The Countess
in Nightmare
Used to repair Wand of Lower Resistance and Battle Staff of Teleportation if necessary.
Act 4 NM - Act 5 H<br>(Respec + Level 75)

The respec assumes that you are Level 38. This is the earliest Level at which you should do it.

Use the Slider for visual Skill Progression

Respec

Shadow Disciplines

Cloak of Shadows - 1 Skill Point
Mind Blast - 1 Skill Point
Burst of Speed - 3 Skill Points

Traps

Lightning Sentry - 15 Skill Points
Death Sentry - 9 Skill Points
Charged Bolt Sentry - 10 Skill Points

Max out in Order

Lightning Sentry
Charged Bolt Sentry
Shock Web
Fire Blast

Attribute Allocation

Allocate enough Strength to wear all of your gear. Put remaining Stat Points into Vitality.
Level 39-75: All into Vitality


Playstyle & Progression

  • Before you head into Act 4, respec into Lightning Sentry and Death Sentry as shown above. Place down 5 Lightning Sentry Traps in the same spot. This causes them to focus fire onto the same target. When the first enemies die to them place down 2-3 death sentry Traps. Their Corpse Explosions deal massive Area of Effect damage.
  • Use Cloak of Shadows and/or Mind Blast to Crowd Control (CC) your enemies with Blinding, Stunning or Converting effects.
  • Continue to keep Burst of Speed up at all times.
  • Curse tanky and/or Immune to Lightning enemies with Lower Resist until you have your first corpses. If they don't die to Death Sentry, simply skip them by running or Teleporting past them. The latter is especially required in Act 2's Maggot Lair and some parts of Act 3.
  • The Chaos Sanctuary can be an annoying place. While Grandvizier the Chaos is always Immune to Lightning, the other 2 Seal bosses may also be. If they are, you can still kill them by preparing a bunch of corpses, dragging them on top of them and use Death Sentry to blow them up. If this is unsuccessful, you might have to reset the area.
  • The biggest challenge lies with the Ancients in Act 5. Before you start this fight, drop 1-2 inventories worth of Life and Mana Potions inside the arena. Repair your Wand of Lower Resistance to ensure that you have enough Charges. Madawc is always Immune to Lightning, and even after his Immunity is broken, he still has a lot of remaining Lightning Resist. Make sure none of the Ancients have Elite modifiers that increase their Resistances (Magic Resistant, Lightning Enchanted, Spectral Hit) as this makes this fight harder than it needs to be. Use Town Portals to reset them if they do. Check Madawc for the "Teleport" modifier as well - It makes killing him even more annoying. Keep running in circles while laying Lightning Sentry Traps until Talic and Korlic are dead. Lure Madawc close to a pillar and move to the opposite side of it so that his attacks are blocked by the terrain. Place the Lightning Sentry Traps in a place they can hit him and cast Lower Resist to break his immunity constantly. Slowly but surely this will knock him out. If the angle between Madawc and your Character allows it, add in some Fire Blast throws to increase your damage output.

Essentials

Hardcore

All our Leveling Guides are viable for Hardcore.
Changes to consider:

  • Over Level before you enter Nightmare / Hell. Target Levels are ~38-40 for Nightmare and 65+ for Hell.
  • This build is using Ancient's Pledge for a large amount of Resistances. This gives us the option to go for maximum Vitality.
    Alternatively, you can use Rhyme and go for Chance to Block. We recommend going for 50% Chance to Block, saving you from Physical Damage hits. With its Cannot Be Frozen Affix, it also increases your mobility! All this doesn't come without a cost. Going for Chance to Block sacrifices Resistances and Life, which make you more vulnerable against ranged elemental spells.
  • Make sure to have your Cold, Fire, and Lightning Resistances capped at 75% when you enter Nightmare and Hell. The easy way to check this is to enter the difficulty you want to play and open your Character screen.
    • We recommend farming Flayer Jungle or The Secret Cow Level in Nightmare for Charms. They make it easy to cap your Resistances.
  • During the respec you can choose to go for 1 Skill Point Shadow Master for an additional monster distraction. Be aware that this Skill reduces your over-all damage output because she uses Skills from the complete Assassin Skill Tree (even unallocated ones) with much lower Levels than yours. If she uses Traps, they count towards the maximum of 5 Traps you put down.

Gear Options

With a shared stash now available, this might not be your first Character. In this table, we list items that are nice to use if they are available to you:

  • Death's Hand + Death's Guard provides you with 30% Increased Attack Speed, All Resistances +15%, and Cannot be Frozen. You should use Ancient's Pledge with this Set to gain large amounts of Resistances.
  • Ravenfrost can be another source for Cannot be Frozen at Level 45+.
  • Hsarus' Iron Heel and Sander's Riprap are strong options for the Boots slot. Both provide you with Faster Run / Walk and are very common drops.
  • Another source of Increased Attack Speed is Twitchthroe while also providing you with 20% Faster Hit Recovery and 25% Increased Chance of Blocking. This is an extremely powerful Body Armor, especially for Hardcore. Use this if you want to go for Chance to Block early on!
  • The Stone of Jordan provides you with +1 to All Skills, which scales our damage up significantly. It's an expensive option, but if you have one, put it on!
  • A rare Amulet with +x to Assassin Skills or +x to Trap Skills is very powerful. Unique options for the Amulet are The Eye of Etlich and later a Maras Kaleidoscope
  • Splendor can be a really nice option if you can get high Resistances without the help of Ancient's Pledge.
  • Smoke is an extremely strong option to get Resistances for cheap.
  • Another Body Armor option is Skin of the Vipermagi. With the additional +1 to all Skills as well as all Resistance, it's a very strong item.
  • While using the Fire Traps, Magefist could be used for another +1 to Fire Skills. They also increase the Level of Death Sentry.
  • Treachery would be a seemingly good option for your Character. Funny enough, it is least useful on the Assassin as it overwrites your Burst of Speed when its Fade procs. It can still be used for the +2 to Assassin Skills.

Farming Spots at Level 75+

The areas below are efficient farming locations that make use of the build’s strengths. Other farming spots might not be as effective due to immunities or bad layouts.

Act 1

AreaRewards
The CountessRunes
Key of Terror
AndarielUniques
Sets
Jewelry
The Secret Cow LevelRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels

Act 2

AreaRewards
Arcane Sanctuary
(Specters/Super Chests)
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Jewelry
SummonerKey of Hate

Act 3

AreaRewards
Lower KurastRunes
Runeword Bases
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Jewelry
TravincalGearing
Runes
Charms / Gems / Jewels
Gold
MephistoUniques
Sets

Act 5

AreaRewards
Eldritch the RectifierGearing
Gold
Leveling
Shenk the OverseerGearing
Gold
Leveling
PindleskinGearing
Gold
Leveling
NihlathakKey of Destruction
Leveling

Video


Summary

  • Farm Stealth / Leaf from Normal Countess.
  • Use Fire Blasts and Wake of Fire until you respec.
  • Keep Burst of Speed up at all times.
  • Buy a Gnarled Staff of Teleportation between Level 20 and 24.
  • Farm Nightmare Countess for Lore and Spirit.
  • Buy a Wand of Lower Resistance between Level 31 and 35 and use it to break Immunities or increase your damage output against tanky enemies.
  • Respec into Lightning Sentry and Death Sentry at the start of Act 4 Nightmare if you're at least Level 36.
  • Lightning Immune can be a problem. Re-roll boss Affixes if you have to!

Good luck!


Credits

Written by Teo1904
Reviewed by MacroBioBoi


Changelog

Sep 19th 2022
Fixed formatting issues

Mar 9th 2022
Overhauled and Updated for Patch 2.4