Shadow Impale Demon Hunter Guide

Solo XP Speeds

Introduction

The Shadow's Mantle Demon Hunter is a classic among DH builds. Fast, easy to build, easy to learn, it can help you get started early on and help you push quite high on the solo leaderboards without too much effort involved. As a Rift Guardian and Elite Killer in groups, you can hop in and do a fine job, even when it's not exactly in the META. Focused on heavy single-target damage through the combination of Impale and the 6-piece bonus providing 75,000% extra weapon damage to the skill for the first enemy hit, it allows you to dish out devastating damage. Point-click-kill is how the set works, and it's very effective at searching and destroying the right targets—especially elites.

Along with that goes the 4-piece bonus giving Shadow Power all runes and infinite duration. While the rune Gloom provides less damage reduction than other typical set bonuses, this is still a very solid layer of protection through immense values of Life per Hit you get on top. Combined with other effects such as Elusive Ring or the Aughild's Authority set, you can become very tanky. In addition, it's also very mobile through the effect provided by Chain of Shadows, which allows you free use of Vault essentially all the time.

Strong season starter ✔
Tanky & beginner friendly ✔
Very consistent results in GRs ✔
Solid core setup for everything ✔

Good elite & Rift Guardian killer ✔

❌ No AoE damage
❌ Undynamic on high tiers

❌ Not the best at any activity
❌ Weak in Bounties and Rifts
Inconsistent damage reduction


Core Setup

Core Item Build

Items

  • The Shadow's Mantle set provides huge damage bonuses: x61 through the 2-piece, and x101 through the 6-piece, for a total of x6161 damage with your Impale (against the first enemy hit only however).
  • Due to the 2-piece bonus, you are required to use a melee weapon, which will be Karlei's Point. This items gives you effectively infinite resources in most scenarios on top of a 375% damage boost.
  • Holy Point Shot is another key item, providing 100% damage boost and also effectively tripling your damage when you stand close enough to the target to hit with all of your knives. The additional projectiles will be thrown in a cone-shape away from you.
  • Dawn will be your cubed weapon slot for permanent Vengeance uptime.
  • Chain of Shadows provides unparalleled mobility by letting you infinitely spam Vault, and is present in virtually every variation of the build.

Global Stat Priorities

Especially important for almost any DH build is reaching permanent Vengeance uptime. This is achievable through the 65% Cooldown Reduction effect provided by Dawn (cubed) and having 37% Cooldown Reduction on your character. What you will always use is the Flawless Royal Diamond in your helmet slot, 10% from Paragon Points and 8% rolled on your shoulders. The rest will typically be provided by Gogok of Swiftness giving you another 15%, which will lift you above the necessary cap.

It doesn't really matter which element you stack. Cold / Fire / Lightning / Physical all can be used, as long as you stick to the same one on your item rolls. Despite what Grievous Wounds says, it does not really improve your dps, and neither do the other runes. That being said, the overall best runes to use are Impale Ricochet or Overpenetration due to their easier Hatred return through Karlei's Point.

Pay extra attention to Life per Kill secondary rolls on your gear. Shadow Power Blood Moon turns 50% of that into Life per Hit. By stacking Life per Kill you can boost your sustain without sacrificing any important stats.

Aside from that, you want to stack damage stats wherever possible, especially Crit stats, Elemental Damage, Impale Damage, Attack Speed and lastly Area Damage (only for solo push). The rest goes to defense, especially All Resistance on Pants, Boots, Belt, Shoulders is important, mixed in with some Vitality rolls and perhaps Elite Damage Reduction on your chest piece. Physical Resistance is also extremely useful, as you will generally stand very close to your enemies and most of the incoming damage will be of that type. Because of that, you should always use Flawless Royal Diamond in your chest and pants sockets.

Item Stat Priorities

SLOTITEMSTAT PRIORITY
Main HandKarlei's Point
Echoing Fury
Dawn (Cubed)
1. Damage Range
2. Socket Ramaladni's Gift
3. Attack Speed
4. Damage %
5. Area Damage
6. Elite Damage
7. Dexterity
Off-HandHoly Point Shot1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Impale Damage
3. Area Damage
4. Dexterity
HelmThe Shadow's Mask
Aughild's Spike (Crafted)
1. Socket Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Impale Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Dexterity
GlovesThe Shadow's Grasp
Gloves of Worship (A2 Bounties)
St. Archew's Gage (Cubed)
Stone Gauntlets (Cubed)
1. Critical Hit Chance
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Attack Speed
4. Area Damage
5. Dexterity
ShouldersThe Shadow's Burden
Aughild's Power (Crafted)
1. Dexterity
2. Cooldown Reduction
3. Area Damage
4. Vitality
5. Life %
Chest The Shadow's Bane
Aughild's Rule (Crafted)
Aquila Cuirass (Cubed)
1. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond
2. Dexterity
3. Elite Damage Reduction
4. All Resistance
5. Vitality
6. Life %
PantsThe Shadow's Coil
Captain Crimson's Thrust (Crafted)
1. Dexterity
2. Sockets Flawless Royal Diamond
3. Vitality
4. All Resistance
BootsThe Shadow's Heels
Captain Crimson's Waders (Crafted)
1. Impale Damage
2. Dexterity
3. All Resistance
4. Vitality
Ring 1The Compass Rose
Restraint
Ring of Royal Grandeur (A1 Bounties, Cubed)
Rechel's Ring of Larceny
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
4. Average Damage
5. Area Damage
6. Attack Speed
Ring 2Elusive Ring
Convention of Elements
Focus
Avarice Band (A3 Bounties)
1. Socket
2. Crit Chance
3. Crit Damage
4. Average Damage
5. Area Damage
6. Attack Speed
7. Dexterity
BracersAughild's Search (Crafted)
Wraps of Clarity
Nemesis Bracers
1. Elemental Damage
2. Critical Hit Chance
3. Dexterity
4. Vitality
5. All Resistance
AmuletThe Traveler's Pledge
The Flavor of Time
Squirt's Necklace
1. Socket
2. Critical Hit Damage
4. Elemental Damage
3. Critical Hit Chance
BeltChain of Shadows
Captain Crimson's Silk Girdle (Crafted)
Goldwrap
1. Dexterity
2. Vitality
3. All Resistance
4. Life %

Gems

  • Bane of the Trapped - Best DPS gem for close range combat.
  • Gogok of Swiftness - Provides the necessary Cooldown Reduction along with other bonuses.
  • Other popular choices are Bane of the Stricken as RGK, Boon of the Hoarder for Torment farming and Pain Enhancer for solo pushing, Bane of the Powerful or Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard (to protect Squirt's Necklace buff) in speedfarm variations.

Skills

  • Impale on the skill as our main damage dealer. Karlei's Point gives a huge damage boost and infinite Hatred.
  • Shadow Power for defense, utility and healing.
  • Vengeance along with Dawn and the necessary Cooldown Reduction provides a permanent x1.4 damage and most of the time also x2 toughness boost (through the Dark Heart rune).
  • Vault, especially when paired with Chain of Shadows (and perhaps Tactical Advantage) gives you ridiculous mobility at all times.
  • The last 2 skill slots vary a lot from version to version. Popular choices are Fan of Knives Bladed Armor, Companion Wolf Companion or Boar Companion, Marked for Death Valley of Death, Grenade (in the Bastions of Will setups) and Sentry Guardian Turret.

Passives

  • Cull the Weak, the strongest DH dps passive.
  • Awareness, helps you out in tough times and saves you a death.
  • Ambush is another generic DPS passive that works in every build.
  • Other options include, Numbing Traps, Tactical Advantage, Blood Vengeance for most purposes like farming or pushing. As an Rift Guardian Killer (RGK) in groups, you could also choose Single Out and Steady Aim.

Paragon Points

CoreOffensiveDefensiveUtility
1. Movement Speed1. Cooldown Reduction 1. All Resistance1. Area Damage
2. Vitality12. Critical Hit Damage 2. Armor2. Life per Hit
3. Dexterity3. Critical Hit Chance 3. Life %3. Pickup Radius
4. Maximum Hatred4. Attack Speed 4. Life per Second4. Resource Cost Reduction

1Add Vitality in Paragon until you have at least 600k life (800k for solo push). In 4-man setups with Squirt's Necklace ignore Vitality completely.

Follower

The Templar is recommended for this build due to his melee range and aggressive AI. When there's a monster in range he will always stand still and fight it, making him very predictable and easy to play around.

For the Skills pick Heal, Loyalty, Onslaught and Inspire. All the alternatives, except Intimidate, include AoE hard-CC, which makes mobs harder to manipulate.

Follower's damage is completely irrelevant, so we stack Attack Speed for more on-hit procs and Cooldown Reduction for more Heals. The Items are:

  • Enchanting Favor to make follower immortal
  • Oculus Ring for 85% multiplicative damage boost
  • Hellfire Ring for 0.9% XP boost
  • The Ess of Johan to pull mobs together
  • Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker for the Attack Speed slow
  • Any Shield with Cooldown Reduction

Gameplay

The build is overall fairly easy to play once you understand the core concept. You will only deal damage to the first enemy hit, any other damage output (for example the piercing knives from the Overpenetration rune) is minuscule compared to that and can be ignored. Because of this and the Karlei's Point cone shaped coverage, it is very important for you to position yourself right on top of the enemy you want to target.

Whenever you enter a game or start a Greater Rift, make sure to activate Shadow Power once to receive the effects. The same applies after a death.

Keep your Vengeance up at all times (cast once every 20s). Keep in mind that after your first activation of Vengeance (20s into the rift), you will have 3s downtime on it, because you don't have any Gogok of Swiftness stacks when you enter the rift.

When moving you need to cast Impale after every 4-5 Vaults to keep up Chain of Shadows buff.

Hardcore

The build is overall quite tanky and a popular choice among Hardcore players. Additionally, you have permanent immunity to Crowd Control effects and high mobility to get out of dangerous situations with ease when you have to. Don't forget to replace Ambush with Awareness, if it isn't already included in the build.


Variants

Nephalem Rifts
Torment 16 Setup
(click above to see details)

The Shadow's Mantle is typically not really a very competitive Torment farming build, due to it's limited AoE coverage and way too high damage. It's mainly useful there in case this is the first set you complete and to start farming up others like Unhallowed Essence or Gears of Dreadlands, or when you get it as a season starter from the Haedrig's Gift.

Concept
The idea here is to stack lots of movement speed while still being able to kill most big enemies quickly as you are passing by. To achieve this, we use the whole arsenal: Avarice Band combined with Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap, Tactical Advantage, Hot Pursuit and Rechel's Ring of Larceny (stack Fear on Hit on helmet, weapon and quiver).

We add other damage and utility items such as Squirt's Necklace (which will be protected by Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard), Nemesis Bracers to spawn free elites.

We are using Vengeance Seethe, because in T16 all the enemies die in one hit and Karlei's Point doesn't restore that much Hatred.

In season 22 we equip Echoing Fury and cube Karlei's Point for 20% extra chance to Fear on Hit.

Gameplay
Hunt elites, kill some of the big trash on the way, ignore the rest. Impale is (in)famous for its simplicity and in Nephalem Rifts there's literally nothing you have to worry about.

Setups
There are some possible variations for the remaining slots, for longer sessions Gloves of Worship can be useful due to the near permanent shrine effects, Warzechian Armguards can provide extra Movement Speed. It's also possible to use the Sage's Journey set for extra Death's Breath drops by wearing two pieces along with the Ring of Royal Grandeur and cubing the Chain of Shadows. Likewise, Impale is so strong that it's possible to swap two pieces of The Shadow's Mantle set to Cain's Destiny at the Rift Guardian spawn in Nephalem Rifts, allowing you to acquire Greater Rift Keystones 25% faster.

Solo Speed Greater Rifts
Solo Speedfarming Variation
(click above to see details)

This set is a very good solo speedfarmer, as you have high damage output, paired with high mobility and good Elite hunting capabilities.

Concept
Due to the heavy movement, we cannot use the Endless Walk set, and rather rely on Focus and Restraint. Because we have to use a Generator (Grenade) skill to activate them anyway, we also include Wraps of Clarity for the additional defense. We cube Elusive Ring for the same purpose. Finally, we use Squirt's Necklace for double damage. Since Impale DH is a melee build with very poor AoE damage, we need to go an extra mile to protect our Squirt's Necklace stacks. On top of standard Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard we use St. Archew's Gage. This item works wonderfully in speedruns, giving us a massive shield when we encounter an Elite pack—precisely when we need it most. 10 second duration is more than enough to kill the Elite and move on. With this setup you only lose the buff when you find multiple elites in the same spot.

Gameplay
Keep up your buffs with one generator cast every 5 seconds, otherwise jump around and hunt mainly for Elites and big packs of monsters. When you find an Elite, try to kill it as fast as possible; if it has aggressive affixes, you might lose the shield after a few seconds, but by then Elites should be almost dead, and by the time you reach the next pack, your shield will regenerate.

Setups
If you don't want to bother with shields and Squirt's Necklace you can replace it with The Flavor of Time and use Captain Crimson's Trimmings set (cubing Chain of Shadows and Ring of Royal Grandeur). Also replace Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard with Bane of the Powerful. This setup is more squishy and it does slightly less damage, but the damage is 100% consistent and you have double pylons on top of that.

If you just want to be tanky and chill, then once again you can use The Flavor of Time + Bane of the Powerful instead of Squirt's Necklace and Gizzard, and also cube Echoing Fury (or Stone Gauntlets if you feel like facetanking some Molten explosions).

Solo Greater Rift Push
Solo Pushing Variation
(click above to see details)

The Shadow's Mantle is a solid set for pushing and can give you a nice entry into the high tiers without requiring really much from you. However, it's typically outclassed by other builds at the top end.

Concept
In order to survive facetanking monsters at higher tiers, we need to add more survivability to the setup. This is done through the Stone Gauntlets, Elusive Ring, Numbing Traps and Sentry Guardian Turret. For damage we use Endless Walk set, Convention of Elements and Pain Enhancer. Attack Speed boost from the latter also helps with our recovery. Finally, Aughild's Authority set gives great bonuses to both attack and defense, especially against Elites.

In this setup you want to focus more on Area Damage (stack at least 100%) and less on Attack Speed (just on weapon and maybe on gloves).

Gameplay
Again, you mostly want to hunt down Elites and kill them off, however not every one of them is necessarily worth it once you approach the limits of your setup, as you might simply require too much time to finish them. This applies especially to illusionist packs, big blue packs, Juggernaut yellows, or enemies that tend to run away and hide. While fighting Elites, try to gather trash monsters around you to kill through passive Area Damage procs from the attacks to your main target. This will give you the progression needed to reach the Rift Guardian in time. When you have juicy, well packing trash you can fight it even without Elites present, just sitting in Oculus Ring and blasting them with Area Damage will be enough to keep you on timer.

Setups
At very high Paragon (5000+) you can switch Elusive Ring to Convention of Elements. Other than that you have some small damage<->toughness adjustments: switching between Wolf Companion and Boar Companion or Sentry to Marked for Death Valley of Death.

High Tier RGK
Endgame Group RGK Setup
(click above to see details)

The set is quite strong as a Rift Guardian Killer (RGK), however typically not the prime choice. Regardless, it remains a decent option and capable of the highest tiers with a group that wants use it.

Concept
As a RGK, you just need to get to the boss somehow, and then kill it. We optimize this setup for most Boss DPS possible, which will leave you quite squishy and helpless, especially during high tier pushing.

To achieve this, we add lots of DPS items at the cost of other utility, such as Focus & Restraint, Squirt's Necklace, Convention of Elements, Aughild's Authority set and we even drop Chain of Shadows for The Witching Hour. Also, we have to include Bane of the Stricken, it's the most important gem for an RGK.

Gameplay
It can be very difficult to reach the Rift Guardian without dying, so you have to be careful with your movement and defensive abilities such as Vault in order to not run out of Discipline and die in a corner. On the boss, you hold down Impale (and cast Grenade every 5s) until it's dead, potentially repositioning yourself sometimes in case they move or spawn adds. You need to stay at least 10 yards away from the boss to activate Steady Aim. At the same time, you don't want to be much farther away than that to hit with all three knives. To get a good feel of how far away 10 yards actually is, you can play UE Multishot DH and pay attention to you 4-piece buff. It refreshes every 0.5s, if there's no enemies within 10 yards of you—the same condition as Steady Aim.

Setups
If you have trouble keeping your Squirt's Necklace buff, switch from Bastions of Will to Convention of Elements + Elusive Ring. This setup is a lot more tanky, but deals a lot less damage. You can also give a little bit of extra damage to your party by switching Grenade to Marked for Death Valley of Death.

Alternatively, you can drop Squirt's Necklace altogether and use Endless Walk set and Convention of Elements instead. This setup is less tanky than the one above and it deals the same damage. The upside here is that you don't have any shield to worry about.

Speeds RGK
Group Speedfarming Variation
(click above to see details)

Concept
This version is designed for XP runs that farm mid-tier GRs in about 4-6 minutes. There you typically have 2 DPS characters: AoE trash clearer and Rift Guardin/Elite killer. Impale DH fits this role pretty well, due to being a decent RGK and also providing 15% multiplicative damage to the trash clearer via Wolf Companion.
This is basically the same maximum DPS setup as one used for high tier RGK, with couple of differences. We bring back Chain of Shadows that is necessary to not fall behind in fast paced runs. And we also use Bane of the Powerful instead of Bane of the Stricken because it also helps us kill elites in the rift, and the bossfight is not long enough to really let Stricken shine.

Gameplay
Again, nothing special for gameplay in Speeds. Focus on elites only, the other DPS will kill trash. Don't forget to use Grenade every 5s. Spam Wolf Companion, keep up Vengeance.

Setups
If you are too squishy, or playing in a group without support Monk, switch Squirt's Necklace to The Flavor of Time.


Video Guide


Mechanics

Karlei's Point

  • Hatred will return starting on the second hit.
  • Impale Ricochet can give you hatred back on the first attack (due to bounces).
  • Overpenetration is useful for hatred return and Pain Enhancer stacks - but the piercing knives won't deal any significant damage.

Impale

  • The first enemy hit will take massive damage, everything else can be neglected.
  • Your knives will be thrown in a cone-like shape, so standing close to the target is necessary to hit with all of them at once.
  • Bonus damage provided by Chemical Burn and Grievous Wounds runes stacks additively with skill's 750% base damage and with 75000% first target bonus provided by The Shadow's Mantle (6) Bonus. For that reason changing to a different rune will not improve your DPS in a meaningful way.

Chain of Shadows

  • Provides a buff for 2 seconds to vault freely after using Impale.
  • Make sure to use Impale often enough while moving, so that you don't run out of Discipline.

Shadow Power

  • Use once to get the buff - it will stay on permanently thanks to The Shadow's Mantle (4) Bonus.
  • Activating it again will only apply slow from Night Bane rune.
  • Life per Kill from Bottomless Potion of Mutilation can be snapshot during its effect, as long as you don't use Shadow Power again without it. This will increase your healing overall and is very useful, especially for pushing.

Summary

  • Reach the necessary Cooldown Reduction for permanent Vengeance (37% including active Gogok of Swiftness).
  • Use Impale at least once every 2 seconds to keep up the Chain of Shadows effect.
  • Stand close to your target, only the first enemy hit will take the big damage.
  • Make sure to use Shadow Power at least once at the start of a run, preferably right after pressing your Bottomless Potion of Mutilation.
  • Hunt down elites and juicy trash mobs to progress, ignore small, stray enemies.

Guide by wudijo and Northwar.

I hope you enjoyed this guide! Shadow Impale is an ideal beginner build, and if you're not familiar with it yet, just hop in and try it out!