Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Comprehensive Guide

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Comprehensive Guide by Banaritaz

Guide Breakdown:

A – Abilities/Runes/Skills

1) Hungering Arrow, lvl 1
2) Entangling Shot, lvl 3
3) Bola Shot, lvl 11
4) Grenades, lvl 15
5) Evasive Fire, lvl 14

Hatred Spenders:
1) Impale, lvl 2
2) Rapid Fire, lvl 5
3) Chakrams, lvl 12
4) Elemental Arrow, lvl 20

Hatred Dumps:
1) Fan of Knives, lvl 17
2) Spike Trap, lvl 17
3) Strafe, lvl 19
4) Multishot, lvl 22
5) Cluster Arrow, lvl 27

Utility Damage:
1) Companion, lvl 17
2) Marked for Death, lvl 21
3) Sentry, lvl 25
4) Rain of Vengeance, lvl 30

Core Defensive Abilities:
1) Caltrops, lvl 4
2) Smoke Screen, lvl 8
3) Shadow Power, lvl 16
4) Vault, lvl 9
5) Preparation, lvl 13

– Gearing
– General strategies
– Overview

A): The basic Blizzard made description of each ability isn’t always the full story on any given ability. So in this section, I’ll give the base idea of the ability and general information you may not have known. In this section, I’ll also discuss any relavent information about ability and skill interaction.

Note- The idea of “Saving” skill procs is that certain skills will only happen at certain times. Often, you will want to control when these things happen. I’ll note when this matters.


Generators are your on demand source for Hatred regeneration. They typically generate 3 hate per attack and cost you nothing. When you can do nothing else, you can always use your generator, making the pick here crucial. Keep in mind that higher Attack Speed does give you a higher Hatred generation from these abilities, but you’ll also be able to use your Hatred abilities more often. Below are your choices!

1) Hungering Arrow(HA): Unlocked at level 1.
This ability is the DH’s first Hatred generating ability, 3 Hatred per shot and strikes for 115% weapon damage. HA behaves a bit oddly for a missile, in that it will actually seek out a target if the target is close enough to the arrow. This has some good and some bad aspects to it.

The other ability it has is the ability to “puncture” a target. This makes the arrow simply continue to exist and seek targets to hit. This gives HA huge damage potential against a few minions (Anything more than 2-3, and other generators will easily outperform it in terms of damage.) The puncture happens 35% of the time. II’ve now seen this arrow split 4 times, for a total of 5 strikes from one cast. Still need evidence if it can split more.


– You don’t need to be all that accurate. It’ll hit the enemy by itself it it’s close enough.

– Strong range. *If a mob is close enough to the “end” of the arrow’s range, it’ll activate the seeking pattern and still hit the mob.


– This ability has limited finesse to it. The more chaotic the situation and the more mobs on screen, the less chance you have of hitting what you need to hit. This is an important point because it’ll hugely hamper you against mobs with the ability to summon other creatures.

– Very little AoE potential.

– No utility outside of pure damage output.

While different Runes will change this, the general idea with this generator is that you’ll have to use your other abilities to handle utility and AoE and HA will become either purely there for Hate regen, or for damage on 1-2 creatures at once.

I’ve done some testing and there are a few more points I’d like to make about HA:

When dealing the fatal blow to an enemy, the arrow can split.

The “split” and new arrow CAN miss, actually, even if other mobs are nearby. It seems to pick a random or semi-random direction to fly in, and if that direction is opposite of anything, it’ll sometimes just plain miss.

The “range” potential for HA is immense. As long as the first mob is in range, it’ll attack targets regardless of where they are in relation to you. This means you can find mob far off screen dead to HA. Amusing, but keep in mind that this can pull other mobs you didn’t see AND, sadly, pull Loot Goblins that you never knew were there.


Puncturing Arrow: Unlocked at level 6.
Increases the chance for a puncture to 50%. Very basic.

Cinder Arrow: Unlocked at level 17.
Gives the arrow a 35% burn over 3 seconds to each target it hits. This increases the overall damage dealt to 150% weapon damage, which is quite significant. Burn doesn’t stack, so this rune is weaker against single targets.

Shatter Shot: Unlocked at level 26.
On a successful puncture of a target, this rune will create two additional seeking arrows. These extra arrows will find and seek targets, but do not seem be able to puncture or create additional arrows.

When the arrow “scatters” on a single target, the mechanics seem to become strange are are either based on mob size or movement, or both. I’ve seen, definitely, the arrow split and have no arrows return to strike and seen one arrow return to strike, both on regular mobs and bosses. I’ve heard of all the arrows coming back to the original target, but I’ve been unable to replicate. If anyone could do testing or confirm that it does or doesn’t happen, please let me know!

Devouring Arrow: Unlocked at level 42.
The bread and butter and the only option once you have it, this arrow increases the damage of the arrow by 70% on every split. *This ability stacks, but the way in which it stacks I’m not certain about and am certainly looking for feedback on. My math is very weak!

My current guess is that it stacks similarly to this:

If your base HA hits for 1k, then on the first split, it’ll hit for 1700. The next split will then again be increased by 70% and hit for 2890, the next will hit for 4913.

Or it MAY stack in a much more simply fashion and simply increase the damage of each split by 70% of the first number. I believe it’s the first method, though. Again, looking for confirmation.

Regardless, it’s still an amazing Rune and gives HA amazing single target capabilities. It also puts out big numbers and we all like those (I’ve seen 80k Hungering Arrows. In Hell.)

Spray of Teeth: Unlocked at level 52.
On successful critical hits, it’ll explode and hit everything nearby for 50% weapon damage. *I have very little information here. I’m looking for general information on the AoE size and whether each puncturing arrow can produce this.

Regardless of additional info on SoT, I still don’t recommend it. There are simply much stronger AoEs for DHs than HA.

–NOTE. Important: There is a lot of information out there about the strongest DPS rune. On singlet target, it seems to be Devouring, then Puncturing, then Cinder. But the difference are MINIMAL in every case. (Cinder fall more behind on single target, because the DoT doesn’t stack.)


2) Entangling Shot(ES): Unlocked at level 3.
Another Generator, and by far our weakest in terms of damage output, this arrow will slow two enemies by 60% for 2 seconds and strike for 75% damage. The slow is applied by a “Chain” which visually stretches to both creatures. The chain seems to have around a 25yard limit, so don’t expect it to always land the second slow. The target of this second slow and “chain” will also receive the damage. The secondary damage can crit and trigger skill based effects.

This generator shines as a spammable slow and is often a good choice if you don’t find yourself needing the damage from the other generators. The rune choices for this particular shot give you a lot of room to accomplish what you want. Can be very strong in group play if no one else is running slows.


Chain Gang: Unlocked at level 9.
Increases the size of the slow to 4 creatures. The range limit on the slow makes this rune, unfortunately, of limited use. In theory, it would let you control elite packs better. But you’ll rarely get all 4 together in such a way that allows good use of this Rune. So while it has significant use, there are probably better options unless you just really want more slow coverage.

A note on this ability is that the damage it offers can be quite strong in small group situations. In terms of AoE range, this has a respectable size and will let you hit 4 targets at once for 75% weapon damage, giving you 300% damage per shot. Not oustanding, but not awful either for an AoE.

Shock Collar: Unlocked at level 18.
Increases the damage of ES by adding on 18% lightning damage per second for 2 seconds to both targets under the “Chain” effect, giving you 36% total damage added on. But you shouldn’t be using ES for the damage. This rune gives you a total of 202% weapon damage per cast. There are probably better choices unless you really feel you need more damage from your ES and feel that you can’t change to something else.

Heavy Burden: Unlocked at level 34.
Increases the duration of the slow on both targets by 2 seconds, giving you 4 seconds of slow total. *This Rune depends greatly on what your weapon speed is like. The faster you shoot, the less this glyph will help, as you’ll naturally be able to launch more ES inbetween Hatred attacks without as much loss of damage. For those of you with slow weapons and not attacking Attack Speed boosts, you may want this to increase the time you can spend attacking with Hate abilities.

At the same time, it’ll also depend on how often you’re using your generator FOR generation. For instance, if you’re using lots of Impale or Multishot, you’ll be using MORE ESs naturally, so have less need of this glyph.

In short, if you use ES alot, this won’t help. If you don’t, this will.

Justice is Served: Unlocked at level 47.
Increases the Hatred generated by this ability to 6 per shot. This is a very strong ability for any build that is constantly running out of Hatred. But try to keep in mind how often you’re actually going out of Hatred. There are other ways to generate Hatred more reliably and constantly.

*I’d only recommend this for builds running 2 forms of Hatred dumping at once, as that’s the main reason you’d need more for your Hatred regen than Companion- Bat and natural 3 Hate per shot regen.

Bounty Hunter: Unlocked at level 54.
Gives you 6% lifegain on damage dealt with this ability. Effectively useless at the level in which it is unlocked. This applies to both mobs you hit, so if you chain it up reliably, you’re getting 6% lifegain from 150% weapon damage.

The damage is far too low from this ability and the healing far too little. If you need ES, there are better choices for most aspects of play.


3) Bola Shot (BS): Unlocked at level 11.
This ability our long range AoE generator. It hits for 130% weapon damage after 1 second and detonates to hit all other targets within 7 yards (not the original target) for 110% damage as fire. It’s a very strong AoE in some situations, but the 7 yard range is rather limited. It won’t clear a room, but this ability will slaughter things standing in places like doorways and natural choke points.

The downside to BS is very simple. A 1 second wait on any damage is very long in some places and is very long in ALL places throughout Inferno, where even the weakest (but very fast) mobs can kill you in just a few hits. But the single target damage after the 1 second wait time is very strong and the AoE is a wonderful bonus.

The other issue BS faces is that you need to be a very attentive player. There is a tendency to “overkill” with this shot, wrapping another bola around a mob that is already going to die from bolas already on him. You must avoid this if at all possible to get the best use out of BS and maximize your damage.

Once you get down the habit of using your other abilities to deal with immediate threats and timing your bolas, it’s a very useful generator.


Volatile Explosives: Unlocked at level 14.
Increases the range of the explosion to 14 yards. Simply increases the AoE range of BS. Useful if this is your primary form of AoE.

Thunder Ball: Unlocked at levle 24.
Changes the damage type of BS’ main hit to lightning 130% and gives it a 35% chance to stun the PRIMARY target, and only that target. Stuns are always very useful in this game, but keep in mind it won’t be able to act as a stopper to a mob charging you, as it still is affected by the 1 second delay of the explosion. Very useful though for dealing with many bosses and elite packs as it’s easily your most reliable and spammable stun.

Acid Strike: Unlocked at level 37.
Changes how the bola works: The attack now launches 3 bolas in a very narrow cone in front of your character for a long range that hit for 130% poison damage. They’re slightly random in their flightpath. EDIT: They do have to wait 1 second for their detonation. They have a VERY random flightpath. It has a basic cone shape that it’ll travel along, but you can have 2 on top of each other and one way out to the left or anything like that.

* looking for more information, specifically whether or not more than one of these can hit the same target (Particularly from up close)

Bitter Pill: Unlocked at level 51.
When the bola explodes, you have a 15% chance to gain 2 discipline. The relatively small chance to gain anything make this run very iffy for me. If you find yourself constantly low on Disc (and most playstyles you will be) AND having the chance to spam Bola over Hatred attacks, then this could be a very strong choice. However, if you’re using your Hatred ability over your bolas when possible, this may not be the best choice. This ability is also less useful on builds that already have their Disc generation taken care of through other means (AKA, Prep/skills/gear)

Imminent Doom: Unlocked at level 57.
Increases the damage to the primary target to 182% and the damage to explosion victims to 154%. Increases the delay of explosion by 1 second (2 seconds total). I like this glyph and the raw damage it provides. If the increase in explosion time bothers you, just remember that you weren’t able to use Bola to deal with immediate threats regardless. This is a to taste sort of thing, but if you’re looking for more damage with AoE potential from your ranged generator, this is your best bet (Especially compared to HA and ES)


4) Grenades: Unlocked at level 15.
This ability launches 3 grenades that each do 95% weapon damage. It launches them in a cone formation. The grenades will always follow the same cone formation, but if they come in contact with something, will bounce/roll. This means that in certain situations and in very narrow areas/doorways, the damage concentration is tremendous.

This spell has a slightly shorter range than most of your generators. As in, the max range of grenades seems to be about 40 yards. Other generators typically will fly further than that, so keep that in mind with this ability. This ability also has no passive “Aim assist”. This means that unlike all your other generators which will hit the first thing they come to, whether or not you clicked them or near them, grenades will ONLY detonate at a precise time where you meant them to go (Unless they hit an object in the environment, causing them to bounce).

What this means, in simple terms, is that you have to aim better with grenades compared to other generators BUT you’ll be rewarded more for that aiming. You’ll never accidentally kill mobs you didn’t mean to because they run through the flightpath of your missile.

Targeting note: Grenades behave slightly oddly and I wanted to cover it. When you click the button to activate all other generators, the missile involved travels in that direction from whatever the “midpoint” of that ability is. Grenades don’t always follow this logic.

You’ll notice that the grenades sort of bounce they’re way to the area. . So if you left click a random point, the grenade will explode 5-10 yards BEFORE it reaches that point. HOWEVER, if you click on a targetable point, the computer will do this for you, making the grenade detonate right as it reaches the mob. So if you’re a shift-left clicker and don’t rely on clicking on mobs, you’ll need to be aware of this.

MORE notes (Grenades are weird): Grenades have one very large strength. You can literally rain grenades down on things on lower level and lob them up to some upper levels and even lob them over gaps in the floor. This can be amazingly useful and if you do this a lot, grenades may be just the trick for you.


Tinkerer: Unlocked at level 22.
Increases the Hatred generation of this ability by 3 (6 total). You get this much earlier than you get Justice is Served for ES, so for that level frame I can semi support the use of this as PURELY a means to get more Hatred. It’s still awful, I still don’t recommend this, but at least there’s the extra Hatred. With Grenadier, this becomes a truly impressive Hate regen. Running certain builds will let this, plus Bat Companion and Marked for Death Mortal enemy will let you recover Hatred at amazing speeds. This is almost only useful for Impale builds, as nothing else will run your hatred as fast.

Cluster Grenades: Unlocked at level 32.
This ability increases the damage of each grenade to 112% and gives it an AoE of 8 yards. While this greatly increases the damage potential of grenades and gives it outstanding short range AoE, this ability still isn’t worth the risk. Grenades could do 250% a piece and there could be 5 of them, but it still doesn’t make up for the lack of range or precision. That being said, if you insist on using Grenades, this isn’t a bad choice.

—-Note – Cluster Grenades, upon further testing, may be viable with substantial slows from either Traps or other sources. the damage is very, very high. All other risks still apply.

Fire Bomb: Unlocked at levle 40.
It increases the damage to 124% and gives you a good bit more precision with grenades. I would generally just call this useless. The loss of overall damage isn’t worth it.

Stun Grenades: Unlocked at level 48.
They’re grenades that stun 25% of the time for 2 seconds. They’re very useful in small areas and very bad in large areas. If you like playing RNG and want to be a daredevil in small areas, you could perhaps use this to stunlock large numbers of mobs at once. This ability may be very useful in group play in particular.

Gas Grenades: Unlocked at levle 60.
This grenade is the king of damage. 95% weapon damage on hit and 25% damage per second for 3 seconds to every mob standing in the impact zone. This is crazy, crazy damage. 170% weapon damage total on mobs that aren’t moving. Caltrops + this gives you insane damage in certain locations. *need confirmation on whether or not these little hotspots stack or not.

Final note on grenades: After doing some testing, they’re not all that bad. Certainly not as bad as I originally thought. I still don’t like them much, but in group play, they’re certainly viable. Just don’t expect them to ever be very effective at killing fast mobs.


5) Evasive Fire(EF): Unlocked at level 14.
Evasive Fire is both very similar and very different from all your other Hatred Generators. This ability hits for 125% weapon damage and generates 4 (Yes, four) Hatred per shot. This makes it a fantastic Hatred generator, especially with such high single target damage.

However, unlike other Generators, EF has a cost. EF says that when an enemy is close to you at max range, you’ll Backflip 15 yards away. However, the actual mechanic is different.

What happens is that when you HIT a mob in front of you, if he was too close (Seems to be 10-15 yards) you’ll do a backflip. This means that if you hit a mob too far away with mobs attacking you, you’ll sit there and die.

When you do a backflip, it’ll remove 4 Discipline from you. If you don’t have the Disc, it simply doesn’t happen.

Now, there are a few points that some players may not realize:

– Important!: This ability bypasses most walls. Namely, walls pronounced by Wallers.

– There is no cooldown on this flip. As fast you land attacks is as fast as you can do the flips.

– Amusingly enough, this ability is capable of absolutely fantastic Hatred regeneration and damage. When a Backflip is triggered, your “swing timer” with this attack is reset. Meaning that if you put your back to a wall and hold down the button for the attack, you’ll fire incredibly, stupid fast. This will drain your disc, of course, as you’ll be flipping into the wall each time, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re totally out of Hatred or need massive damage.

– The above point means that holding the trigger a bit too long in enclosed spaces can completely deplete your Disc. Many basic DH builds currently being played are hugely reliant on Disc and can’t afford this. So careful play is required.

– You’re not immune to damage or attacks during a backflip. It’s a movement tool, not an immunity tool.

– The actual missile of EF is invisible. Practice will be needed to aim with this ability.

– The flip can and will put you into bad situations. Always keep in careful mind your positioning to areas you haven’t cleared yet. Also keep in mind that mobs with Teleport or natural gap closers can instantly change their position and force a flip you weren’t expecting.

With those points made, whether you use this ability depends entire (As always) on personal choice. It’s strange for a generator and would almost certainly require a playstyle change for many people to use effectively. Now, on to the


Shrapnel: Unlocked at level 21.
This rune adds a 30% weapon damage explosion in an AoE from the impact point of the main strike in a 6 yard range. This attack can crit and DOES strike the original target, increasing the damage of EF to 155% damage per hit, plus AoE. This is the only true damage upgrade for EF.

On that note, there are probably better choices for this ability.

Parting Gift: Unlocked at level 26.
When you successfully backflip with EF, this rune drops a bomb dealing 45% weapon damage in a 12 yard area. The bomb is droppedon the point at which you were standing before the leap.

Again, while this does add some damage, there are certainly better choices. If you need damage, Shrapnel easily outstrips Parting Gift in terms of output.

Covering Fire: Unlocked at level 34.
This ability turns your EF into a 3 shot conal ability. Very narrow cone, but the ability seems to auto hit up to 3 targets, one time inside that cone for 125% damage. Very easy to aim this.

Displace: Unlocked at level 42.
Doubles your flip distance to 30 yards. This may be useful in some situations, but I’ve not found an actual reason to need the 15 yards.

Use it if you really feel like you want more survivability, but the king of EF runes is the last one.

Surge: Unlocked at level 53.
Surge halves the Disc cost of your backflip to 2 yards. It also converts the damage of EF to lightning. This takes away a huge amount of the Disc strain you’ll experience with this ability. Often times, your natural regen of Disc will replace what you lose here before you even need it, as long as you’re not flipping constantly.

On the other side, this lets you use the strategy of wall-flipping for more damage to a ridiculous extent.

EF is good with Shrapnel for early game play, but when it comes to late game and assuming you really like EF, this is probably going to be your only real choice due to the Disc limits and high Disc use strategies used in most late game clears.


Hatred Spenders are your primary ways to spend Hatred in order to do damage. I’ll typically call them spenders for the rest of the guide. They’re certainly not your ONLY way to spend Hate, but they’re typically the most useful in general situations and have the best sustained damage. Below are your choices!


1) Impale: Unlocked at level 2.
The king of our single target big numbers and one of the most straightforward abilities we have. It deals 250% weapon damage for 25 Hatred to the first target it hits. Regardless of your build, Impale is very heavy on Hatred and is therefore best with either heavy regen from items or heavy regen from other abilities we have (Famously, Companion-Bat and Marked for Death- Mortal Enemy).It’s simple and brutal and is something far too often overlooked in terms of how you spend your Hatred. And depending on your Rune choice, it can easier be the single strongest DPS ability you have, or something just as nasty, if in a more subtle way.

Note: Per Hatred, Impale is a rather low damage dealer. This will probably make it a weaker choice than either EA or RF in terms of group play boss fights. Keep that in mind when choosing your Hatred spender.


Impact: Unlocked at level 7.
Gives Impale a 65% chance to stun the target for 1.5 seconds and knock them back. Very simple and, at the same time, gives a player enormous room to let skill play a part. Impale’s fast travel time and the relatively good chance of the stun occuring make this ability very strong in interrupting bosses and their slow wind up time abilities. It also helps you deal with elites and simply strong mobs.Unfortunately, as good as the ability to stunlock a boss for several consecutive seconds is, the reality of this Rune is a bit of a let down. The knockback is minimum and most bosses seem to be immune to it. Without the other runes, Impale’s damage is strong but not world ending and you’ll be reliant on other abilities and your Generator for raw damage output. This is a good choice, but the rest of your build will have to reflect your Spender’s relatively low damage per Hatred spend.

Chemical Burn: Unlocked at level 15.
This takes the formidable damage of Impale and makes it staggering. 125% damage over 2 seconds plus the base damage gives you 375% damage from 25 Hatred. It deals the damage every .5 seconds and each damage spike *CAN crit but *CANNOT trigger effects based on critting (Which seems to mean it benefits from Sharpshooter without consuming it and can’t restore Disc via Stalker.) It’s difficult to tell, because there is no “yellow” text from the bleed, but the damage does seem to greatly increase occasionally for no reason, leading me to believe it’s simply critting.

Note: The DoT doesn’t stack. Hitting a mob with Impale more often than every 2 seconds is, in theory, a decrease in overall damage done. If you like to truly dump Hatred with Impale, then Greivous Wounds seems better.

Overpenetration: Unlocked at level 28.
This rune simply lets your Impale hit multiple mobs down it’s line of flight. It is amazing at the damage potential here and if you’re looking for something that will let you destroy bosses, elites and dirt mobs alike, this is your baby. There doesn’t appear to be any “Orb” like effect (Like you’d see from Wizard abilities or our Elemental Arrow with lightning/nether) and it does need to actually touch a mob to count as hitting them. But this is a small point.

Awareness: Unlocked at level 53.
When you release Impale, this rune creates a field of damage around you (10 yards) and hits everything for 75% weapon damage. *I believe this hits everything and isn’t reliant on any “missile” coming from you and hitting a mob. Need feedback on this. This is, unfortunately, a relatively poor choice for Impale simply because Impale already has some very strong Rune choices. If you’re looking for AoE and don’t like Overpenetration, there are other choices.

Greivous Wounds: Unlocked at level 58.
The other single target, staggering damage choice, this Rune causes your Impale’s to deal 100% addition damage when they crit. *However, this isn’t an after the fact bonus. This is simply added on to your “Damage on crit” stat. This seems to imply that the more damage on crit you’re stacking, the LESS effective this becomes. It will still be amazing and very strong, but it’s something to consider.

Overview on Impale: I’ve not felt the need to overview anything else, but this one actually has a difficult decision in terms of Rune. If you need AoE and are looking for general strength, Overpenetration is best. But if you’re looking for raw damage on single target, Chemical Burns and Greivous Wounds seem to be rather close.

The winner?As long as you’re using Sharpshooter, it’s probably Greivous Wounds. And the higher the difficulty is, the more this will become apparent. The hit and run style you’re forced to use in Inferno will make sure that you’ll be critting a lot and running between crits. Attacking rarely and critting when you do is GREAT for Greivous and seems to be the opposite of what you want for Chemical Burns. Of course, without Sharpshooter or in co-op play, the winner is closer to Chemical Burns. I’m looking for more data here and opinions, so please share.


2) Rapid Fire(RF): Unlocked at level 5.
I think all Demon Hunters have a love affair with RF. It was our first “interesting” ability and looked amazing and let us begin to handle AoE situations. It does 228% weapon damage and costs an upfront 20 Hatred and 10 hatred after that.

The damage seems to be rather poor. The first “burst” of RF only does 114% weapon damage, so you need 6 arrows to deal 228% weapon damage.

The biggest issue with RF is that it requires you not to move. This is fine on lower difficulties, but if you’re having problems on later stages, consider using Withering rune and going into a stutterstep, burst firing pattern. Or switch to co-op so you can attack from safety, where you can really just sit and fire.

It’s spread is noticeable, but not terrible. It’ll only be a problem on very small mobs (It’s still amazingly accurate compared to Chakrams.)


Withering Fire: Unlocked at level 11.
This is ABSOLUTELY required. Officially, this rune decreases the starting cost of RF to 5 and causes them to all deal Fire damage.

But keep in mind all the implications of such a low starting cost. This lets you run and fire without the prohibitive costs. For instance, assuming you only fire 3 bursts each time you change positions, the non-Withering Fire RF will take 69 Hatred. The Withering Fire will only take 24.

Web Shot: Unlocked at level 19.
Puts an 80% slow on every mob you hit for 1 second. This rune is very useful in some situations and only real problem with it is the fact that RF has a staggering upfront cost without Withering Fire.

However, I’ll note that in Co-op play, if you’re running Cull the Weak and no one else has a slow, this will let you get the tremendous benefit of Cull without having to do anything special and, because ideally all mobs will be handled by others, you will only have to pay the 20 Hatred cost once or twice.

Note, the less often you interrupt your RF casts, the less important Withering Fire is.

Fire Support: Unlocked at level 32.
Every second, it creates 3 rockets that do 35% weapon damage. The rockets will go in any direction and will attack objects in the environment if there are no mobs present. They can be critical hits. This actually seems to make RF do even crazier damage than it already does.

Assuming you cast RF once and empty the whole thing, this rune will outdamage per hate spent Withering Fire. This becomes more and more noticeable the more Hatred regeneration you have from Skills/Passives/Gear.

High Velocity: Unlocked at level 45.
This rune gives each missile a 40% chance to go through the enemy it hits and strike again (Much Like Hungering Arrow). These “pierced” rounds *CAN pierce again. This Rune gives RF it’s highest overall potential DPS, but is rarely worth it. It’s absolutely awful on bosses and most elite packs and will only shine in AoE situations at all. IF you’re looking for RF to do more AoE, this may be worth it. But except for a few cases, you won’t get much use out of this.

Bombardment: Unlocked at level 56.
Converts your RF missiles into grenades that travel in a slow arc to your desired location. Each grenade deals 276% weapon damage to all mobs in a 4 yard area (Painfully small area.). ***

**Sense RF shines in co-op play, I don’t really see the point in this. This rune also removes RF’s ability to deal with close in threats and faster enemies.


3) Chakram: Unlocked at level 12.
Chakram summons a spinning disc that strikes enemies for 150% weapon damage and flies slowly through the air. The flightpath of the Chakram is always the same, but until you have the flightpath down and know where the Chakram leaves your body at, it’s difficult to aim effectively.

Their main issue is that the direct line in front of you (including directly in front of you in melee range) is the place least covered by Chakrams, so aiming is very counterintuitive.

Chakrams can hit a mob more than once if it passes through it again and can hit any number of creatures along it’s path. They also DO bypass a lot of terrain. This makes it an outstanding ability to cleave through weak mobs to destroy the ranged mobs in the back.


Twin Chakrams: Unlocked at level 18.
This rune doubles the numbers of Chakrams you launch per attack to 2 and changes their damage to 100% weapon damage. This ability gives you amazing area coverage and overall damage, but it still suffers some very basic problems:

– It’s not very good at killing only a few things at once. It’ll kill them, you’ll just need to spend a lot of Hatred to do it. Twin Chakrams doesn’t do anything in moderation.

– Although Dual Chakrams will cover your screen in numbers in a lot of AoE situations, you’re rarely doing all THAT much damage to what they’re hitting. Remember, each hit is only doing 100% weapon damage. You’ll often need 50-60 Hatred worth of Glaives just to kill a few white mobs.

NOTE: The overall damage being done if each glaive is hitting 4+ mobs before it disappears is outstanding, both in DPS and in Damage per Hatred.

Serpentine: Unlocked at level 26.
Serpentine takes all that’s bad about Chakrams, and makes it worse. This converts your basic Chakram to a slow moving, green Chakram that deals 203% weapon damage as poison to all mobs it hits. The issue is, it’s horribly slow. If you think aiming the regular chakram can be difficult, this is nearly impossible. And hitting anytihng fast is completely a matter of luck.

This rune does offer the most theoretical damage per cast for Chakrams, but even in cluttered, AoE situations it’s rarely effective.

Razor Disk: Unlocked at level 34.
This is probably the only Rune that can rival Dual Chakrams in terms of usefulness. This Chakrams deals 165% weapon damage to all things it hits as arcane. More importantly, it flies directly to the location you click and then spirals out from there. It does an almost perfect 360 rotation, slowly getting further away from the middle. This ability to pick the starting locations makes it useful for dealing with melee threats and dealing with groups up enemies further away. It also dramatically decreases your ability to deal with something quickly.

Despite the advantages of this rune (Fast speed of chakram to target point, relative high damage considering) it has a flaw. Because of the nature of it’s spin, it’ll rarely hit anything once and the AoE portion is, while predictable, not usably predictable for most players. It’s very difficult to keep an image of a spiral aiming reticle locked in your head while you play!

Boomerang: Unlocked at level 48.
Awful. I don’t even see the point in this horrible, horrible glyph. It does 188% damage as lightning to everthing it touches. And it travels in a rough horseshoe pattern from the firing location. It only goes about 15 yards away before it comes back. Amusingly enough, despite the terribly short range, it STILL can’t handle threats in melee range. There is nothing good about this rune that I can find.

EDIT: I’ve fixed a lot of what I originally said about Chakrams. I didn’t fix this. Seriously. This rune sucks. I’d need to see some amazing evidence before I’d be willing to change the first word of this post to something besides, “Awful”.

Shuriken Cloud: Unlocked at level 57.
This rune completely eliminates your actual missile. Instead, it covers you in whirling blades that do 38% weapon damage per second to everything nearby for 2 minutes.

The only use I can find for this Rune is for farming Nightmare and Normal mode at level 60 for your low level friends. I guess. Maybe.


4) Elemental Arrow (EA): Unlocked at level 20.
Elemental Arrow costs 10 Hatred and shoots a ball of fire at normal missile speed in a straight line, dealing 155% fire damage to every mob it hits on the way. It has a relatively small effect radius (To reflect the small size of the missile).

To compare it to something, it functions much like Impale with Overpenetration. This ability combines strong AoE with strong direct damage.

Important note regarding level 60 Hell/Inferno! You’ll often see this ability mentioned in particular at this level of play, but not necessarily because it’s so strong by itself. You’ll see EA often mentioned because of Nelaphim’s Valor. This buff gives you a stacking buff to Magic and Gold Find for every elite you kill, stacking up to 5 times and lasting 30 minutes. But this is removed when you change skills.

So EA is used often because it has everything necessary to deal with any situation, if not perfectly, reasonably well. It lets you focus on surviving and reliability over managing your offensive skill.

This is slightly opinion based, but it’s also based off the fact that this spell is simple and powerful, especially with some of the Rune choices. Which we’ll address now!:


Ball Lightning: Unlocked at levle 24.
This rune converts the Fire damage of EA to Lightning damage and lowers the speed of the missile and turns it spherical. When tested, unlike many spells for DH, this spell will “Reach out” to strike mobs. This gives it incredible radius of damage and makes it very strong at dealing with spread out enemies. The damage of this ability is deceiving. It’ll strike everything in range twice, doing 77.5% weapon damage.

Unfortunately, it’ll also occasionally also hit once. It can hit 3 times to make up for this, but it’s exceedingly rare (It seems to only occur on mobs that are “knocked back”). Making this one of the few runes that can actually decrease your overall damage for single target situations over the default Rune.

*** On large, immobile bosses, this may reliably triple hit. IF anyone can confirm this, please let me know.

Frost Arrow: Unlocked at level 29.
This rune converts your damage to Frost and increases the damage per hit to 170%. It also puts a 60% slow on everything it hits, lasting 1 second. The utility and damage to small groups is very strong.

However, unlike ALL other Runes and versions of EA, this one does not travel as a sphere and instead operates exactly as a typical “missile”. It has a fast travel speed, but can only attack any given creature once, and can only strike 4 mobs.

If it hits a mob, it’ll deal damage, slow it and then a new arrow will be created for every mob nearby. So! If you have 1 mob in front, and 3 behind, the first shot will strike the lead minion and 3 arrows will split to hit the ones behind it. If you have 4 mobs in a row, the first shot will hit the lead mob, then create ONE arrow to hit the next, which will create one shot to hit the next.

The shot in general behaves erratically. It won’t always hit mobs directly next to your target, but sometimes it will.

Still! A very good rune overall, especially with the slow.

Screaming Skull: Unlocked at level 36.
In operation, it acts exactly as EA in terms of dealing damage and behavior. However, this rune grants you a 40% chance to fire a skull that will fear all enemies for 1.5 seconds.

Now, pay careful attention to the wording here. This Rune does NOT grant a 40% chance to fear. It grants you a 40% chance to cast a “Special” round (Which is visually distinctive. It explodes from your weapon, is huge and all flamey like and summons shadow rings as it flies). This shot will certainly fear everything it damages for 1.5 seconds.

This means you can much more easily predict the fears and when to redirect shots for better fear coverage. Once you see the special skulls, you’ll learn to change your position to direct the fire along other paths. This obviously takes practice, but this rune is a very strong choice, benefitting HUGELY from Attack Speed.

***In fact, I’d like to see someone dual wielding and using this Rune. Info here would be nice. Perma fear possible, perhaps?

Lightning Bolts: Unlocked at level 43.
Just like Screaming Skulls, this just changes the overall look of your attack and adds something to it, but does the same damage, movements speed and overall effect radius.

Whenever your Lightning Bolt critical hits, it will stun the target for 1.5 seconds. This is useful, but only with the Sharpshooter buff. And certainly only reliable at the start of every fight, though obviously the longer you go without critting, the more you can predict the stun.

Note about Lightning Bolts and Screaming Skulls: They both achieve much the same thing, and if you want to use something with a “hard” CC, they’re both viable choices. But if you have to choose, I highly recommend Screaming Skulls, especially if you have a high attack speed. The ability to “Expect” the CC to land with visual identification is nice.

While Lightning Bolts will almost always stun on the opening of the fight with Sharpshooter, it’s at the time you least need it. This automatic stun at the start means you’ll have to wait a good few seconds before you can get another good chance at a stun.

The choice is, as always, your’s!

Nether Tentacles: Unlocked at level 59.
Oh, Nether Tentacles. You’re a dirty rascal. Nether Tentacles strikes for 155% weapon damage and returns to you 3% of the damage dealt as life. However, the beautiful aspect of Nether Tentacles is three part:

1) First off, it’s simply an amazing visual spell. I know none of you care, but this is simply a beautiful spell to me and, if for no other reason, is the reason I use it. Now that I’ve said that…

2) Nether Tentacles is produced as large, relatively slow spheres. But there spheres are monstrous in range, similar to Ball Lightning. Unlike ball lightning, though, the damage of Nether Tentacles really does 155% weapon damage, but CAN still strike twice. The AoE of this spell is roughly equivalent to the visual aspect of it. It’s slightly wider than most other versions of EA, but has a significantly smaller damage radius than Ball Lightning.

3) While normally slow missiles are bad (And in this case, it’s still rough at times.) the high damage, double dipping of Nether Tentacles can allow you to approach mobs from max range (**Which, as part of this, seems to be longer than most attacks, just like Ball Lightning) and launch anywhere from 6-10 of these orbs before they mobs even respond. This will allow you to nearly completely kill ELITE packs on Inferno before they’ve moved.

Yeah. This rune is honestly a little broken and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t nerfed a bit.



All of our Spenders have a viable use in almost all places in the game. The important part is to find what you like and what works for you, wherever you are in the game. Whether you’re 4 manning Inferno Diablo or soloing Belial Nightmare, you find what works for YOU. There is no min-maxing in this game and no one will ever know if you’re doing 5% less damage than the guy next to you. So play what works best for YOU and the group together.

This is important. Play what you do well with. Take advice, try different techniques, but don’t be afraid to stick to what you enjoy and play well.


Hatred Dumps are your abilities that allow you to spend a ton of Hatred in a very short period of time. These abilities typically do a ton of damage per cast, but come with a very poor Damage per Hatred ratio single target. They ALL have some sort of AoE component. These abilities can be useful for anyone looking to add burst damage or people who play a very mobile and cautious playstyle and want to maximize how much Hatred they can spend in a short amount of time. Options below!


1) Fan of Knives (FoK): Unlocked at level 17.
This ability does 320% weapon damage to all target within 10 yards of you when used. It costs 20 Hatred and comes with a 10 second cooldown. This ability does incredible damage, but because of the cooldown, must be used in conjunction with other forms of damage. Your natural Hatred regeneration will out-regen the cost of this ability easily. Keep in mind, this will hit all targets within 10 yards, regardless of positioning and any sort of “missile” collision. This ability also slows all targets it hits by 60% for 2 seconds.

The downside to FoK, despite the good damage per Hatred and DPS and the strong AoE mechanic anddd the slow, is that the range is tragically small. 10 yards is horrible and against large mobs, you’ll never hit more than a few, even if they’re stacked up around you. However, if you use good positioning, this ability’s upsides can outweigh the limited range, as long as you’re not expecting it to actually have better range than it does.

Long story short? Learn the limitations of FoK and you’ll be happier in the long run.


Crippling Razors: Unlocked at level 23.
Changes the slow from 60% to 80%, still leaving the 2 second duration. This rune is fine until you get any other rune, but is relatively bad past that. If the mob is close enough to be hit by FoK, an extra 20% slow is an unreliable choice to get away.

Retaliate: Unlocked at level 32.
This ability changes your FoK in a very basic way. Instead of launching on use, it’ll basically hit the next target that strikes you within 10 seconds for 464% weapon damage. That’s a LOT of damage and can’t be stressed enough how much damage this does.

Some notes on this ability, though:

– On Hell and Inferno, the amount of damage you can take in one strike is tremendous. You’ll always want to minimize damage taken and hit received. So I don’t exactly advise anyone using this rune in those difficulties unless they’ve geared heavily towards defense and think they can manage it.

– Probably not the best rune in group play.

– This rune DOES allow you to pre-spend the Hatred and save the attack swing for an encounter. As in, what you can do with this is use the rune, wait 5 seconds, then rush into a pack of mobs with your typical damage. This way, you open with full Hatred and get a free massive hit on everything near you.

Hail of Knives: Unlocked at level 38.
Increases the radius of FoK to 20 yards. This is a huge difference in range. The slow still applies.

If you want to use FoK in Hell and in Inferno, this is probably the best rune for the job. It’s also probably the best rune in group play.

Fan of Daggers: Unlocked at level 44.
Every mob hit by FoK has a 65% change to be stunned. This is a rather useful stun, but there is one pretty significant downside in that FoK naturally has a cooldown. Which means if you run in and use this ability and you don’t see any stuns when you were relying on them , you’re going to be in trouble.

If that kind of RNG is okay with you, it’s an amazing rune. If it isn’t, then the rune has limited application.

Assassin’s Knives: Unlocked at level 59.
This rune buffs your FoK with 5 slightly longer range throwing knives, going roughly 20-25 yards. These knives hit only one target and deal 70% weapon damage. They seem to be thrown randomly out when you use FoK, anywhere along the 360 degree range.

Within 10 yards, this is a very nice damage increase. But, in terms of practical use, you might as well go for Hail of Knives. While Assassin’s Knives gives you better potential single target and better overall damage, the knives just don’t hit hard enough alone to make their extended range noteworthy.


2) Spike Trap: Unlocked at level 17.
This is ability drops a small trap on the ground. This trap takes 1.2 seconds to arm, meaning that it won’t actually do anything for 1.2 seconds. After that, it’ll trigger on the first hostile mob that enters the range. When activated, it deals 275% weapon damage to all mobs within 8 yards. Cost is 30 Hatred. The traps last 30 seconds after being planted.

This is an amazing and seems to be slightly under-rated ability, especially for higher difficulties where getting the most possible damage in the smallest amount of time is essential. The ability to “plan” a battle is very valuable.

Keeping this in mind, ere are some things that may help you out, assuming standard Hatred regen:

– If you plant one trap, you only have to wait 7 seconds before your Hatred is fully regenerated, which gives you 23 seconds to have something hit it.

– If you plant two traps, you’ll have to wait 14 seconds (Assuming a relatively standard attacks per minute) for full Hatred and have 15 seconds before the first trap is gone.

– If you plant all three, you’ll have to wait roughly 20 seconds before you have full Hatred and roughly 7 seconds before they despawn.

This means that before you pull almost all elite packs, there’s no reason not to set down the full compliment of traps along a path for the elites to run through. This is especially useful on tougher packs, or on packs at higher difficulties.

This is also a very useful mobile tool. While you do have to actually stop to cast traps (As in, you’ll see a momentary pause in moment while you lay the trap. This is important if mobs are right on top of you.), this is still one of your better mobile DPS uses, especially as it can be used on where mobs WILL be, not where they are.

-NOTE- Important. On higher difficulties, the mobs do become smarter. Elite packs will actively avoid running through traps unless they are placed in such a way as to block that kind of avoidance. So placing them in chokes or in deliberate wall patterns is recommended.

Also, against wallers, these traps can be placed directly against walls from the outside and triggered by mobs on the other side. This is especially useful in group play, where your teammates can be sectioned off by wallers and leaving you helpless to do damage.

In general, this is a useful ability, but it does have downsides:

– Requires forethought. Not the best ability to use on the fly in the average situation.

– Arming time makes it rather poor for dealing with suddenly threats.

– Relatively poor area of effect. Not bad, mind you, but not all that fantastic for AoE situations.

– High Hatred cost for damage dealt if not used before the fight and given time to recuperate Hatred naturally.

Still, an ability with strong use. Now, to the runes!


Bandolier: Unlocked at level 27.
This rune allows you to have 6 Mines out at once. This rune is amazing for delivering a huge amount of burst in a very short period of time. If you lay out all your mines and kite a mob into them, they will deal 1650% weapon damage instantly. This is very useful in dealing with particularly fast/hard hitting mobs with low HP.

However, a lot of this rune is wasted. Unless you have a large amount of Hatred regeneration, you can’t lay more than 4 before you run out of Hatred. This makes this rune relatively worthless in cases of “Use on the run”. If not totally useless.

Also, keep in mind that even if you take the time to launch all six, you’ll have less than 10 seconds to get a mob to enter them. And almost no Hatred (Less than 60) to use in the fight.

In conclusion, this Rune has it’s place, but keep in mind the limitations. (Note: This rune is almost certainly significantly more useful when running high Hatred regen from Bat or gear.)

Sticky Trap: Unlocked at level 30.
This turns your Spike Trap into a targettable ability, allowing you to place a bomb on any given target. When the afflicted target dies, every mob within 8 yards takes 404% weapon damage.

Notes about this ability in regards to it’s use:

– Can only have one bomb per mob.

– Can have up to 3 bombs out at once.

– Will not cover up the buff for Marked for Death.

– Very difficult to get the explosion to apply at a meaningful time.

– Worthless against most bosses, most of the time.

The real problem of this ability is simple. If the creatures you’re fighting have low HP, they’ll all die so fast to normal AoE that additional, short range AoE is worthless. If they all have high HP, you’ll either want something that can be more meaningful through the fight (Remember, sense this ability only activates on death, the fewer things that die while you’re fighting, the less use it gets.)

Summary: This is a bad rune.

Long Fuse: Unlocked at level 39.
This rune increases the charging time to 2 seconds, meaning it won’t explode for 2 seconds after being placed. However, it increases the damage to 371% weapon damage. This increases the damage for a 3 trap attack to 1113% weapon damage.

This rune is amazing at everything Spike Traps does well at the cost of exaggerating it’s already existing weaknesses. You won’t be able to use this to deal with suddenly bad situations very well, or for hitting fast mobs chasing you very well.

However, in terms of planning ambushes or dealing with slow mobs that you’re kiting, this is absolutely a strong choice for killing things.

Lightning Rod: Unlocked at level 46.
Converts damage to lightning. When the trap is triggered, it creates a pulse of lightning that will strike the mob that activated it and the two closest mobs for 275% damage. The lightning has a much larger AoE than the normal mine, roughly 20 yards. However, it limits the damage spread to 3 hits. This makes this Rune ideal for handling certain elite packs and giving you more overall damage and more reliability that the AoE portion will be used.

Scatter: Unlocked at level 55.
This rune allows you to drop all 3 of your mines at once for the same Hatred cost, lowering the actual cost of each mine to 10 Hatred. This is just a fantastic rune. It gives you a very strong Hatred to Damage cost (30 Hatred for 825% weapon damage. Better than Impale without a rune.). This also importantly helps in kiting, because you have to stop less frequently to do the same damage.

The traps are laid out in a rough row (Slight arch, with the middle trap in front), though in narrower areas, they may stack or simply be laid along the borders of the wall.

Now, keeping in mind how strong this rune is in terms of damage per second and damage per hatred, it does have one large downside:

– On Hell and Infero, mobs are frustratingly smart about traps. I’ve seen elites run straight through the tiny gap between traps. They’re also good about once one of these traps have been triggered, they’ll all go through the gap. This means you’ll need amazing placement to get the most bang for your buck here, as a bad click will let a pack simply swerve around the entire trap. However, this applies to all types of Spike Traps. Still, worth noting.

One point about this is that sometimes mobs will make ridiculous turns around a “trap wall” created with this. This can lead to a net gain in distance, including the time it took to plant. Very helpful for some kiting situations, if unreliable.

On the other side, mobs are also smart about knowing a helpless cause. Don’t expect that dropping 3 traps on a staircase will slow mobs down. It won’t. If there isn’t an immediate safe path available, they just chug through at full speed.


Strafe: Unlocked at level 19.
This ability is a channeled ability that has a base cost of 15% Hatred and does 120% weapon damage per “set”. *Each set seems to consist of 5 shots, each one dealing 24% weapon damage. However, unlike most abilities, this ability allows you to continue moving while doing damage, but at 65% of your normal move speed.

This ability is, to be quite frank, quite terrible. The damage per Hatred is bad, the damage per second is bad. And while the utility of moving while casting is interesting, you’re almost inevitably better off to “stutter step” (The practice of only moving between shots) with a normal ability.

Combine the above with the fact that this ability is NOT actually AoE. It’ll only target one thing at a time to do damage. This makes a poor ability downright bad. Combine this with the fact that it does NOT prioritize mobs over breakable objects, meaning some of it’s already poor damage will be funneled into random items you pass as you move.

It also burns through Hatred stupidly quick. It took me roughly 8 seconds to completely go through my Hatred with this.

No amount of useful runes or experimentation has seem to make this ability worth a precious ability slot. But options below:


Equilibrium: Unlocked at level 24.
This rune increases your attack speed by 20%. This also seems to make your Hatred burn faster.

It’s a fine rune, but Strafe is so basically bad that this doesn’t do a thing to salvage it.

Drifting Shadow: Unlocked at level 29.
Increases your movement speed to 100% during Strafe. This rune is nice, but this rune is basically a way to let you move at normal speed while massively draining your Hatred and doing minimal damage.

Stinging Steel: Unlocked at level 37.
Let’s you throw knives instead of arrow that deal 100% more damage on critical hits. This is obviously a nice damage boost, especially with Sharpshooter. But I find the fact that such a low damage ability will constantly keep your Sharpshooter down unpleasant, as it will hurt you when you can return to more effective forms of damage.

Rocket Storm: Unlocked at level 50.
While doing normal damage, it’ll cause your Strafe to shoot rockets dealing 60% weapon damage as Fire. This makes the awful damage of Strafe slightly more tolerable, as it seems to shoot rockets rather fast. The rockets do track, making it reliable, but their randomness is even higher then the normal firing of Strafe.

Demolition: Unlocked at level 56.
Adds AoE grenades that deal 144% weapon damage to all target within 9 yards. Random, but the grenades are targetted towards enemies.

This rune is probably the only rune I can reasonably recommend for Strafe. The grenades do very strong damage in AoE situations.

Still, Strafe is so poor that even the grenades barely make it worthwhile. If, in fact, they DO.


Multishot (MS): Unlocked at level 22.
This is one of the most widely used Hatred dumps. It costs 40 Hatred and deals 165% weapon damage to all targets in a large cone in front of the caster.

Some notes on this ability:

– Only really efficient in mass AoE situations. Unlike many of our AoEs, the actual area of damage is massive and can hit as many enemies as possible in that range.

– Damage and Hatred are relatively inefficient on roughly 3 or fewer minions. (Three is fine, depending on the rune)

– Fires in a “wave”. The wave grows broader as it flies out in a true cone formation, so it requires more accuracy close up, but takes a moment to hit enemies further out.

– Everything, including debris, will be hit in that wave.

– Unlike some of our abilities, this ability seems to have a rune that fits every situation which is a big reason this ability is so popular.


Fire at Will: Unlocked at level 26.
Decreases Hatred cost to 20. Converts damage to Lightning. This rune is very simple and simply allows you to use this more often, making the Hatred to Damage ratio much more appealing. In terms of Damage per Hatred spent, this rune beats everything else. It’s also quite useful in stutter step and high kiting situations.

However, due to the relatively low damage, it makes it slightly less useful in dealing with immediate threats. Despite that flaw, there is a strong case to be made that this rune is the only rune that should ever be used with Fire at Will, turning your MS into a reliable, cheap way to clear the board of dirt mobs.

Burst Fire: Unlocked at level 31.
This rune adds a rather shallow wave of damage to the beginning of your “wave” of MS. It strikes for 65% arcane damage to all enemies within roughly 15 yards.

This is your strongest single target rune, but only if the enemies are very close, bringing the total damage dealt per shot to 230% damage. It’s also worth noting that the damage isn’t added on, but a different number all together which seems to give you a double chance at Nightstalker.

Unfortunately, this rune only slightly beats out Full Broadside which has none of the range limitations. And certainly doesn’t beat out the overall damage per Hatred of Fire at Will.

Suppression Fire: Unlocked at level 39.
This ability lets every hit of Suppression Fire grant the caster 1 Disc.

Now, this ability can be both incredibly useful and incredibly useless. In the current world of disc heavy builds, it’s tempting to label anything that restores disc as amazing.

But keep in mind how often often you’ll get a significant amount of Disc per -40- Hatred. That’s a huge Hatred investment and considering how rarely you’ll get more than 4-5 Disc, it’s use is arguable. In boss fights, 1 disc per cast is terrible. Even 2-3 is quite poor (You won’t even get a single Smokescreen from that with an entire pool of Hatred.) This will MAYBE buy you 1-1.5 seconds of Smokescreen at the cost of your entire Hatred pool?

Now, on the other hand, in situations where you’re hitting more than 10 mobs, which certainly can and do occur, this is a good bit better. But, even if you’re getting 10 Disc per cast, you’re still only getting two extra smokescreens per Hatred bar.

So, in summary, really think about how much Disc this ability will generate and whether it’s worth the low damage and huge Hatred drain for you in compared to other rune choices.

(NOTE: I’d be willing to take feedback and math here and change this section as needed.)

Full Broadside: Unlocked at level 46.
Does nothing at all interesting except make a strong ability do a lot more damage. It increases the damage to 214% weapon damage to everything in range.

No other change. But that’s a large damage jump. More DPS burst, less Hatred per Damage than Fire at Will. Certainly a question of playstyle.

Arsenal: Unlocked at level 55.
Every cast also launches 3 rockets, each striking for 60% weapon damage.

The rockets seek, but no mob can be hit by more than 1 rocket per cast. This puts Arsenal in an odd spot where it really shines at exactly 3 mobs spread out in front of you. This is actually common with blue elite packs, so it’s worth noting.

However, without Ballistics, this rune’s 3 enemy limit just hampers it too much. Both Full Broadside, Fire at Will and Burst Fire will easily outstrip it on anything more than 3 minions and this rune only beats those runes by tiny amounts in 1-3 enemy situations.

And while Ballistics buffs these rockets heavily, we have better skills to use and this rune isn’t good enough to justify using it regardless.

More importantly, MS really shines as a broad clearer and AoE damage. Buffing it’s 1-3 minion damage just doesn’t have much real impact in the face of much more obviously and widely applicable rune choices.


Cluster Arrow (CA): Unlocked at level 27.
Costing 50 Hatred, this is our single biggest Hatred dump in the game. By extension, it also has a nearly obscene damage potential per cast, dealing 200% weapon damage as fire in a very small AoE on hit (Around 6 yards), then it explodes into 4 small grenades that each do 100% damage as Fire. (I’d like testing against a large boss here to see if it’s realistic or even reliable that all 4 grenades will land on a large enemy.)

Considering that both aspect of this ability has AoE potential, it’s a quite impressive damage dump in almost all situations. It also has a very fast missile speed, so with intelligent aiming, you should rarely miss.

Having said that, this ability has a few cons which I’ll list below:

– The grenades are totally random, as far as I can tell. There is no way to predict them other than the fact that they won’t launch past a wall, making this ability more reliable in tight chokes or against mobs against a wall.

– Huge Hatred cost. You’ll need to either use a high damage generator (Like BS or HA) or you’ll need a build with a TON of Hatred regen.

– Short range. However, it’ll always detonate. So even a miss gives you a small chance for some grenade damage.

– Grenades also have a relatively small AoE. This, combined with the random placement, can lead to unfortunate RNG times where all your grenades do zero damage, especially on faster mobs or very open areas.


Dazzling Arrow: Unlocked at level 33.
This rune gives each grenade released on impact a 55% chance to stun. This is quite useful at giving you area coverage and stunlocking a boss. However, the high Hatred cost makes this a rather poor choice. You’ll almost never get more than 3 CA off in a row, so using that as a stunlock ability seems a bit iffy, especially with Impale right there at half the price and a more “Instant” slow, as in doesn’t have to wait for the stun to happen after it lands.

The other problem with this is that the grenade placement is so random, bad RNG can easily lead to none of your grenades landing in range of the target.

Shooting Stars: Unlocked at level 36.
Instead of launching grenades on impact, this will launch 3 rockets that deal 175% damage to the targets they hit. These rockets, as is standard with rockets, will seek out targets randomly and no mob can be hit by more than one rocket. (Which caps CA>SS to 375% damage to any one target, compared to the base cap of 600%) While the damage potential is lower for SS compared to non-runed, the reliability is much higher. And against fast, small packs of mobs, this is probably more useful.

But the lack of AoE, the lack of potential damage, the fact that the rockets can and DO target unimportant debris in the environment instead of enemies makes this rune rather frustrating.

Maelstrom: Unlocked at level 41.
This ability relatively radically changes how CA behaves after the explosion. After it explodes, it creates a Nether Tentacle-ish kind of sphere. This sphere will hit everything (including the original target) for 145% weapon damage after about a second. This has a significant range of around 10 yards, making it much more reliable than base CA, but it caps your damage against any particular target to 345% damage. Which is quite low considering the 50 Hatred cost. You also get 4% of the damage done as Lifegain, making this a reasonably decent way to get some life back in an instant, but it’s rather negligible.

A good rune, but capping your damage so low at such a high Hated cost is bad, to put it bluntly.

Cluster Bombs: Unlocked at level 49.
This ability transforms your CA into a much slower, but higher damage projectile. It launches a single grenade through the air in a slow arc. Starting after about 10 yards, this single grenade will drop a smaller grenade that strikes for 230% weapon damage as fire to everything near in a very small AoE, roughly 4 yards. The grenade continues, dropping 5 grenades in total before itself landing and exploding, the entire process taking about 2 seconds from time of cast to final detonation.

This gives you a tremendous amount of damage down a central line, but I do unfortunately feel compelled to point something out. Due to the slow speed of the projectile, in almost every possible situation where you could use Cluster Bombs, Nether Tentacle EA will outdamage it and go twice as far. While a mob can sometimes eat 2-3 grenades, you can use FAR, FAR more NT and remove the risk of a mob simply moving out of range or the risk of missing slightly and costing yourself a tremendous amount of damage.

However, with that said, if anyone wants to test this out on some of the larger bosses and see if this significantly outperforms NT, I’ll mark it down. But I don’t see this happening unless you can get at least 4 grenades on target.

Loaded for Bear: Unlocked at level 58.
This rune simply increases the base damage of the first explosion to 290%. This makes this rune choice very reliable and gives it the highest realistic damage potential of any of the runes (You only need one grenade hit for 390% damage, putting this above every other choice except Cluster.)

Being able to empty your Hatred at the start of the fight to deal 580% damage definitely + 8 grenades dealing 100% each gives you a huge amount of opening burst, often times enough to take down an enemy from full to zero. But keep in mind that while CA has a HUGE DPS potential, this ability is weak in terms of long fight potential. Even compared to Impale, a relatively inefficient ability, CA falls very far behind past the first 2-3 attacks of the fight.

Summary of CA:
I like this ability, but realistically it only has so many applications. But as long as you bring something else as a reliable damage dealer, this could arguably see more use than people seem to give it. If you find yourself running a build where your Hatred never dips below 80% and you find yourself relying heavily on kiting, this may find a niche appeal.

Keeping that in mind, the huge Hatred cost is going to limit this to only some builds. Don’t try and force a this in a build.


Utility Damage is a source of damage that does at least one of the following thigs, or both: 1) Provides some sort of non-damage based support or 2) Deals damage without a significant resource investment. This allows these abilities to be backseat abilities to any build, but provide meaningful support in a myriad of ways and for a wide variety of builds. While they’re not central to anything, they can always be interesting additions. Below are the abilities that qualify!


1) Companion: Unlocked at level 17.
This ability costs 10 Discipline and summons into being a small familiar of varying shape (Based on rune. Defaults as a Raven.) This familiar attacks every *2* seconds for 38% weapon damage, with roughly a 50 yard range of aggression. Once the familiar is summoned, there is no further cost to it, so summoning it only when it doesn’t exist is all that is necessary.

This ability is almost more frustrating than it is worth without a rune. Because it has a huge aggro range, your companion will fly off and attack things you had no intention of attacking, pulling them towards you. This can even happen when you’re already fighting tons of things, as the familiar doesn’t seem to have any sort of intelligent targeting.

One of the few bright sides to Companion damage is that they benefit from Sharpshooter without consuming.

However, with the right rune choices, this ability can add a lot of strength to your build and, especially against bosses, the damage is never wasted.


Spider Companion: Unlocked at level 22.
This transforms your Raven into a Spider. This gives your familiar a 100% chance to slow the target by 60% for 2 seconds. Keeping in mind the rough attack speed, this will let you keep up a rather reliable slow on any single target mob.

This is useful, but there are certainly better slows in our arsenal. However, if you don’t WANT to use them, then this rune is a suitable replacement, at least on boss fights and very small encounters.

Bat Companion: Unlocked at level 29.
One of the most useful, if not the most useful rune for Companions, this rune grants to an extra 3 Hatred per second regeneration. This is hugely useful, almost regardless of build.

To give you a bit of evidence how big of a difference this is:

Using Elemental Arrow, at a 1.25 attack speed, I run out of Hatred is roughly 13 seconds of constant casting without Bat.

With bat, it’s a bit over 19 seconds. When you factor in movement in any given fight, bat greatly reduces the amount of time you have to spend casting your generator.

Boar Companion: Unlocked at level 41.
Transforms your familiar into a Boar and let it’s deal AoE damage. In a roughly 6 yard area around the pet, everything takes the 38% damage.

This rune is worthless. The damage is too minor to be useful at all as an AoE ability.

Ferret Companion: Unlocked at level 46.
The Beastmaster Rune! This rune transforms your Companion into TWO ferrets. These ferrets give you 10% Gold Find and will actively pick up gold for you.

Their attack damage is 19% damage each, but they seem to do the same amount of damage as any other pet total.

Their gold pick up is relatively poor. While they will go out and get it (They prioritize attacking over gold collecting), they don’t do it all that fast. They’re an interesting gimmick, totally adorable and super, super totally adorable, but the late level at which you get them (Level 46, when every single gold piece has long ago lost it’s appeal) and the relative “meh” of 10% more GF means that there are better choices in the world of Companions.

Wolf Companion: Unlocked at level 59.
The only companion where there is a realistic cost to being used, this Companion only lasts 25 seconds, but hits for 60% weapon damage.

In almost all regards, this isn’t worth it. Disc is far too valuable for you to spend such a large amount on damage. The idea of a Utility Damage ability is that it provides you something useful for relatively little investment. This has a large investment and doesn’t give you much. If you need damage, there are clearly better choices elsewhere.

If I see some other data changing this, I’ll be glad to change this section.


2) Marked for Death (MfD): Unlocked at level 21.
Costs 3 Discipline. This ability causes the marked target (Represented by an actual in game symbol over the mob’s head) to take 12% additional damage from all sources. And that’s it.

A very simple ability, yet obviously useful. You can premark targets, as MfD won’t cause mobs to attack you (Though, sometimes, getting in range to use this can cause them to attack you, especially on faster mobs with more exaggerated natural movement!)

Even in a game where our Disc is incredibly valuable and earmarked for other abilities, MfD can find play due to the simple benefit of a target taking more damage.

Now, the runes for this seem to be, in general, less drastic than a lot of other runes. But, still, picking the correct one is obviously important. Choices below:


Contagion: Unlocked at level 27.
When the target with MfD dies, the Mark will spread to two other creatures. This can continue indefinitely.

So it says, but there are some notes you’ll want to keep in mind:

– The range of the spread is minimal. Around 10 yards.

– It will spread indefinitely, but there will never be more than two marks at once.

– There are no further Disc costs after the base 3.

– If there are several mobs in range of the spread, it seems to randomly choose one.

A final note here that is slightly more specific, but important, is that if you’re using an ability with strong AoE, namely any of the Elemental Arrows, Bolas, MultiShots, this ability is far more useless than you think. You’ll simply kill the creatures that are nearest in the same attack as you killed the original. And while this isn’t as true with Elites, anything that happens “On Death” is bad against elites as they have so much HP and once you kill one of the mobs in an elite pack, the entire effectiveness of the pack is hampered enough to make the small advantage of Contagion negligible.

Still, it’s a fine rune until you get further in the game.

Valley of Death: Unlocked at level 31.
This changes MfD into an AoE ability. It plants a spot on the ground (Wherever your cursor is) that will cause all creatures in it to take 12% more damage. This spot lasts 15 seconds. This spot is rather large at around 12 yards.

This ability is quite strong in solo play. Using this in chokes or in combination with any traps (Caltrops, Spike) and you can see the effectiveness. The also clear advantage of being able to mark unlimited mobs, as long as they’re in the area, is invaluable.

However, the short duration (Half that of normal MfD) and the fact that mobs can simply move out of it makes it frustrating in places where MfD normally shines, like in handling bosses and rare mobs.

That and the fact that, even if you CAN keep them in it, you’re doubling your Disc usage to 6 per 30 seconds and that’s actually significant.

That being said, this rune is simply and utterly fantastic in group play. In a world where not ALL of your Disc has to go to Smokescreen and where mobs can be positioned by several players, this rune is hugely amazing. It requires a bit of practice to use it at it’s peak, but this is still hugely recommended for most groups.

Grim Reaper: Unlocked at level 39.
An additional 12% of all damage done to the target is dealt is divided among all targets within 20 yards. This area is clearly defined, defined by a very large mark on the ground.

Now, pay attention to the wording both in game and in here. This rune does NOT cause all enemies within 20 yards of the target to take 12% of the damage done it it. This rune DOES cause 12% of the damage done to the marked target to be spread out among all the enemies within the range. This does not include the original target (No double dipping).

So, if you deal 100 damage to the first target (including the 12% buff on the target), then:

One enemy in mark: Takes 12 damage.

Two enemies in mark: Each takes 6 damage.

Three enemies in mark: Each takes 4 damage.

You get the idea. And this happens from all sources. This rune is nice when it works well (Like against the Skeleton King. This can let you nearly ignore the summoned creatures and just channel damage into him to kill them.) But, notice, even in the example I give, it’s still meh. The trash mobs are already nearly negligible. And this is true for almost all the encounters.

And I find that against elite and rare packs, our kiting tactics are geared towards simply surviving, not getting them to stand super close for this to be useful.

A decent rune, but the above issues are rough. Not to mention the fact that once you get past 2-3 enemies in the area, the damage becomes completely worthless. In fact, a strong argument could be made saying that this rune is only really any good against groups of 2, one with mark, one taking damage from it.

Mortal Enemy: Unlocked at level 48.
Upon hitting the marked target, you gain 3 Hatred. This is quite simple and applies to AoEs, pets (Sentry/Companion) and basically anything you have that deals damage.

* There does not seem to be a cooldown on this, meaning the faster you attack, the faster you get Hatred. This is hugely difficult to test and I would GREATLY appreciate feedback and information here.

But, for now, there is no cooldown and is procced per hit, not per attack. So if you use Grenades and all three grenades hit, you get back 9 Hatred.

Death Toll: Unlocked at level 60.
All attackers get 1% of the damage they deal against the marked target in HP.

That said, this rune is terrible. Never use it. For any of you who use abilities that let you gain HP (Nether Tentacles, mainly) through damage dealt, you understand that 4% is bad. 6% is bad. 1% is so amazingly useless that it’s amazing Blizzard even thought it would help.

In group play, this has slightly more use and if you’re in a melee heavy party, perhaps worth use. But you, as a Demon Hunter, will never find a use for this in the current state of the game.

NOTE: Keep in mind this is unlocked at level 60, so the review is written for Hell/Inferno gameplay. It may HAVE been useful much earlier in the game. But you can’t use it there, so it sucks.

Sucks. Really. 3-5% and we’ll talk about giving up something as useful as Mortal Enemy or Valley of Death.


3) Sentry: Unlocked at level 25.

Starter Note: This ability is awful. All but one rune from this ability is totally worthless in almost all forms of play. This is mostly opinion, but it’s based heavily on extensive use and experimentation with this ability. I will continue this review, but I feel it important that I avoid wasting your time more than necessary. Do not use this ability unless you’re in group play and running Guardian Turret rune.

This ability drops a small turret into the field wherever you are currently standing. It costs 10 Disc, lasts 30 seconds and deals 20% weapon damage, attacking reasonably fast. This ability won’t distract enemies from you. Has a relatively short attack range, around 30 yards.

When applicable, it produces a sphere of effect from runes. These spheres are about 15 yards and symbolized by literal half spheres around the turret.

Now, I can’t stress this enough. The damage from Sentry is horrible. It’s only a tiny bit more than HALF of Companion’s damage, an ability with already negligible damage. It’s worthless in kiting situations. It DOES benefit from Sharpshooter but not consume it, which is great. Or would be, if it did any damage in the first place.

Again, no reason to use this ability at all.


Spitfire Turret: Unlocked at level 28.
This will let your turret launch rockets that do 8% weapon damage as fire. Even with this rune, your turret does less damage than Companion. Or anything else you have. Worthless (Though, if you insist on using Turret in solo play, it’s better than nothing, certainly.)

Vigilant Watcher: Unlocked at level 36.
Your turret lasts an extra 10 seconds. Would be useful if your turret was useful.

Chain of Torment: Unlocked at level 45.
This rune isn’t actually awful. It changes (does NOT add to) your normal Sentry into a pillar. This billar will create a chain from it to you (Exactly like Fire Chain creatures). This chain deals 40% weapon damage per second to every enemy that makes contact with it.

However, while this isn’t bad in theory, it’s still nearly worthless. It no longer shoots for 20% damage, so the damage increase is minimal. The range of the chain is only 20 yards before it despawns. (NOTE! This chain will actually extend 25-30 yards with typical MS, but won’t hold there. So you’re running on borrowed time for 20 yards.)

Like all Sentry turrets, the use is minimal to non-existent in kiting situations.

Consider, if you’re kiting, Caltrops with Jagged Hookers does EVERYTHING this turret does, but with a slow, slightly more damage and a bigger AoE.

This rune was good in theory and terrible in effect.

Aid Station: Unlocked at level 52.
Everyone in the area is healed for 1% of their HP every 1 second. Not awful, but not worth it. Mainly because the heal is terrible for solo play and there is a much better alternative in 8 levels.

HOWEVER, if you LOVE Sentry and won’t replace it and LOVE doing group play and are doing it when you unlock this rune, this is by far your best choice up to this point.

Guardian Turret: Unlocked at level 60.
This rune is the only way to make Sentry Turret useful at all in this game, and it only does so in group play in current gameplay.

This rune creates a shield around your turret that reduces the damage taken by everyone in the shield by 15%. This is quite strong, ESPECIALLY in melee heavy groups.

Even with this rune, it should still only be used if you feel that it could help the group. If your monks and barbs are never falling below 50% HP, it’ll still be useless. But if you notice them going low a lot, ask your group if they’d like it. Explain the mechanic and then drop the turret on them. Don’t be rude about this. They’re tanking for you, place the turret on top of them. Work together to maintain it.

Honestly, this should be the default Sentry. Mainly because it’s the only one possibly worth 10 Disc.

* It does seem to work on you, but as a Demon Hunter in Hell or Inferno, taking damage should not be your intention, however high your mitigation.


4) Rain of Vengeance (RoV): Unlocked at level 30.
The last ability we unlock as Demon Hunters is also one of the most interesting ones. RoV has no casting cost, but has a 30 second cooldown (Regardless of rune.) This means the only downside to casting RoV is that it won’t be available if something worse happens quite soon.

The other thing to note is that almost every rune of RoV changes it significantly, meaning they’re all almost their own ability to be considered and weighed in your build.

That said, there are two constants:

– They all do a ton of damage.

– They all are free and have 30 second cooldowns.

Knowing that, the BASE RoV does 75% weapon damage for 5 seconds to all enemies in a massive area around you, centered on you. The area seems to be 25-30 yards in every direction, which is larger than the graphic would indicate. This is incredible and will almost always clear your screen of dirt mobs. The combined damage to all mobs in the area is 375% weapon damage.

The area won’t move, is buffed by Sharpshooter and DOES consume sharpshooter.

Note: For raw damage in a larger area, un-runed RoV works very well. You do NOT have to Rune this ability and there are no direct buffs from runes to ROV (As in, nothing will simply increase damage or duration.) Keep that in mind while choosing to rune.


Dark Cloud: Unlocked at level 35.
This ability converts your RoV into a much smaller AoE with different mechanics. This creates a rain of arrows on a small area (About 8 yards) that deals 34% weapon damage. This happens every second for 12 seconds. The “Rain” changes position every second and centers on a random, nearby enemy (Within 15-20 yards).

If a mob enters an already existing patch of arrows, they will take the 34% damage, giving this a true AoE mechanic. But there is no cotrol over which mobs take the hit.

Some important notes:

– The overall damage of Dark Cloud is only slightly higher over a much longer period of time than un-runed base RoV. For emergency damage and clearing dirt mobs, this is NOT an ideal rune.

– The attacks will target debris, occasionally wasting one of the 12 shots.

– Total damage, assuming a mob gets hit by every wave (unlikely) is 408% damage.

– The fact that it constantly changes position makes this the ONLY rune for RoV on mobs that are constantly moving and in situations where you’re kiting heavily.

– Because of the long duration, it’s not very good with Sharpshooter and not very good AT ALL at dealing with suddenly bad situations. It won’t clear out a sudden back of fast spiders in time to save you on Inferno, for instance.

That said, this rune has it’s place for very mobile players. The fact that you can rarely waste the entire ability is important here, as no matter how badly you aim most of your abilities, this one does it for you.

Beastly Bombs: Unlocked at level 40.
This ability is deceiving because the graphic for it makes it look like something it isn’t. What this rune REALLY does it convert your RoV into a ring of damage. 20 bombs over (roughly*) 6 seconds are dropped randomly into a circle around you, but not you. They seem about 10 yards away from you in any given direction.

Each grenade hits for 125% weapon damage and DOES hit in a small AoE (4-5 yards). This makes this rune the absolute king of damage, however random it is. 2500% weapon damage done in a large area over 6 seconds in an AoE is just amazing.

It’s difficult to aim and the range is short and is almost certainly not ideal for solo play. But tons of damage and quite a lot of damage if you can have someone tanking mobs to allow you to get close enough to use it.

Stampede: Unlocked at level 47.
This rune turns RoV into a high damage “wall” sort of ability. This wall forms about 2 yards directly in front of your character and stretches about 5 yards (Yes. Quite small.)

Every .75 seconds or so, a “Shadow beast” comes down and strikes somewhere in that wall in a small AoE. Everything in that area takes 75% weapon damage and gets knockbacked. The timing of the attacks and the distance of that knockback are such that, against non-super fast mobs, mobs can’t typically bypass this small wall, making it very useful in kiting situations, chokes and surprise moments where you need something else to help you create a gap.

The damage is also strong, doing 750% damage over the relatively short duration.

This is good in solo play, group play and the knockback makes it strong in both as well (Typically. Some groups are not a fan of knockbacks. Keep this in mind!). The only significant downside of this ability is that it requires you to be very close to something that moves SLOW.

In the event you’re facing fast mobs, you can just drop it and run. When they pass through it, they’ll take damage and get knockback. But if a mob is slow, you’ll have to run TOWARDS it. Often times, this is bad (Obviously.) This is also true against any boss. Keep this in mind.

Anathema: Unlocked at level 54.
This RoV rune changes your ability into a bombardment type thing. Summoned above you, a creature rains grenades down around you (Very similar to Beastly Bombs, despite the difference in appearance.) This spot drops grenades in a random circle around you that deal 115% damage. It drops 18 grenades, giving you a total of 2070% damage.

Each grenade is AoE.

That said, due to the bouncy nature of the grenades, this becomes an almost exact copy of Beastly Bombs except… Less damage… So… Use Beastly Bombs instead of this. This may give slightly more concentrated damage… But, yeah, go with Beastly Bombs.

(Note: If anyone finds a reason Beastly Bombs isn’t a directly improvement over this, let me know!)

Flying Strike: Unlocked at level 60.
Again, another change to your RoV. At your cursor, 8 beasts come down and hit in a small AoE (about 10 yards). Each impact deals 60% damage AND stuns for 2 seconds. This makes this ability absolutely fantastic against… Well… Everything. Bosses, elites, dirt mobs. This ability lands where you want it, puts out strong damage in a short time and stuns for -2- seconds.

An incredible ability and if you don’t need massive damage in this slot, this is by far your best bet. Stuns are very useful here and the on-demand, AoE, high damage and free cost make this ability a great oh-crap button.


A Core Defensive Ability is any ability that’s primary function is defensive in nature. While many of our abilities have defensive aspects, these five are nearly pure defensive in use/

Most builds will use at least 2 of these, and many use 3-4. This is especially true on high difficulties, but less true in co-op play. That being said, these abilities will be your best friend and you should become very familiar with all of these if you wish to play the game on higher difficulties (Especially Inferno.)


1) Caltrops: Unlocked at level 4.
Caltrops is the first of our defensive abilities and is a reliable choice throughout the levels. This ability create a trap where you’re standing, costing 6 Disc. This trap lasts 30 seconds without being activated. The trap, once activated by a mob walking into range will slow all enemies on it and that enter it during the duration by 60%. The activated trap has a range of 12 yards and lasts 6 seconds.

This trap is ideal for those who like to plan fights and is also great for escaping from mobs, simply dropping traps behind you as you flee and watching mobs run on to them as they chase you.

Some notes:

– Unlike many things, this ability doesn’t cause you to stop to use.

– Can be dropped rapidly, but doesn’t stack, so be careful about spamming this.

– On higher difficulties, mobs will avoid these if practical. Make sure to place them in places where the mob feels forced to run to (as in, placing them randomly in the middle of an open space won’t work well.)

Rune choices below.


Hooked Spines: Unlocked at level 12.
The rune increases the slow strength to 80% move speed reduction.

Very useful on Inferno, where mobs are resistant to slows. Less useful elsewhere simply because 60% is typically enough. However! You should ABSOLUTELY use this rune until you have another rune choice.

Torturous Ground: Unlocked at level 18.
When activated, all enemies in range are immobilized for 2 seconds. This is useful on small number of mobs, but remember. Mobs that run into the area AFTER the activation are not hit with this.

Because of this, this rune can often times lead to spamming of the rune as some mobs simply run through the slow and at you.

On the other hand, on Inferno where mobs are slow resistant, this gives you a definitely useful effect on all mobs. Even fast mobs are frozen, giving you a relatively large span of time to escape.

NOTE: In terms of CC of Caltrops, only Torturous Ground and Hooked Spines are the only two that genuinely increase the effectiveness of the CC from Caltrops. In terms of which is better, they both have strengths. In general though, TG is going to be more effective against faster mobs in small numbers and HS is better against slower mobs in larger numbers.

Jagged Spikes: Unlocked at level 28.
This rune causes your trap to deal 45% weapon damage per second to all mobs inside of it. This is a total of 270% weapon damage over a 6 second duration.

This damage DOES stack, but only in damage, not proc speed. So if you place the maximum of 5 stacks on top of each other, any mob standing on it will take 225% weapon damage per second, taking 1350% weapon damage over 6 seconds.

This is hugely useful on any difficulty setting and very useful on speed runs (Drop and go, drop and go.)

The heavy downside to this rune is that is often times leads to spamming and Disc drain. So you have to balance this with Smoke screen and other disc related abilities.

On a purely personal note, I love this rune on Inferno. Many elite packs that would often be a pain can be beaten simply by running in a circle around an object and dropping these. The relative benefit of other runes simply isn’t worth such a reliable damage source, IMO!

Carved Stakes: Unlocked at level 41.
Decreases the cost of Caltrops to 4 per use. Very useful, but base Caltrops isn’t QUITE useful enough in many circumstances to validate making it cheaper.

However, if you’re just looking for a cheaper slow, then this isn’t a poor option.

Bait the Trap: Unlocked at level 54.
This rune changes your use of Caltrops significantly. This lets you plant Caltrops and, as long as you’re standing on the rune (Whether activated or not!) you gain 10% chance to crit.

This is quite useful on openers where you can stand and cast. It’s also hugely useful in co-op play. The issue you seem to run into is that it’ll cost you a tremendous amount of Disc in the long run to keep using this when you have a chance to cast. Even on boss fights and such, it’s relatively frustrating to use.

I recommend trying this rune out. It stacks better than you’d imagine with Sharpshooter. But this is a huge issue of playstyle for most. You’ll have to experiment for yourself here.


2) Smoke Screen (SS): Unlocked at level 8.
Vanish behind a wall of smoke, becoming momentarily invisible for 1 second. That’s taken directlly from the description and I put it here for you to view so that you can understand exactly how magnificent the game’s ability at understatement is.

Smoke Screen is, currently, the absolute best in game defensive ability for Demon Hunters (Even after the nerfs that had many people calling it broken.) What it ACTUALLY does is remove all currently placed negative effects on you. Slows from mobs, Jailer ability, DoTs. That kind of thing.

It then makes you immune to everything in the game for 1 second. There is nothing that can actually effect your character during SS except for base collision with objects (Waller, in-game walls).

There is some debate as to whether or not this ability actually makes you “vanish” anymore. As in, can enemy mobs still see you? And the answer seems to be… As of now, yes. But not very well.

Mobs can’t hit you while in SS. But they will follow you. Sorta. Often times, mobs further away won’t actively engage you. And, during SS, most enemies seem to suddenly prefer other targets. But it’s completely unreliable as a vanish and, AS OF NOW, you should always assume you’ll be attacked the moment SS ends… Because you probably will be.

Smoke Screen ALSO gives you a base, unlisted movespeed speed boost of 15%. Knowing that, here is SS’ speeds while base, with Tac Advantage and with Displacement.

Smoke Screen = 15% movement bonus

Smoke Screen + Displacement Rune = 35% Movement Bonus

Smoke Screen + Tactical Advantage = 75% Movement Bonus for the duration of SS, then 60% for the remainder of Tactical Advantage

Smoke Screen + Displacement Rune + Tactical Advantage = 95% Movement Bonus for the duration of SS, then 60% for the remainder of Tactical Advantage

You are also immune to Reflect Damage mobs during the duration of smoke screen.

All that at the cost of 14 Disc. Though it now has a quarter second cooldown. Which is to say, no matter how good you are, you have to wait .25 seconds between each SS.

You can time this ability to make you immune to incoming damage and damaging areas that already exist. You can just run right through them with this.

And, to put a slightly more subjective note, it’s said by many players that intelligent and constant use of this ability is the absolute only way a Demon Hunter can progress through Inferno difficulty solo. So far, I’m inclined to believe them.

But, by all means, don’t wait until then. Start using it now. And enjoy the beauty of this ability before it becomes your only means of surviving.


Displacement: Unlocked at level 14.
Gain 35% movement speed when activated. Only useful until you have something better. If you need speed, go with the Tactical Advantage perk. The movement speed combined with the base speed is respectable, but there are simply better runes.

Only lasts until the end of the ability.

Lingering Fog: Unlocked at level 23.
Increases the duration to .5 seconds. This is a very strong rune choice, giving you just a bit longer to get out of bad situations. Just a bit longer to take sit and slam damage into things.

But there is no drastic gameplay changes here. You just get a bit longer to get away and avoid damage. Also, the cooldown between Smoke Screens still remains.

In terms of overall damage immunity, this is the best choice.

Breathe Deep: Unlocked at level 33.
While invisible, you gain 6 Hatred per second. This rune was heavily overshadowed when
the duration of SS was twice as long. It’s now currently terrible. There is no reason whatsoever to pick this rune over Lingering Fog. 6 Hatred or .5 seconds more of the best ability in the game? Not even a question. You gain 2 Hatred in the extra half second that Lingering Fog produces!

Special Recipe: Unlocked at level 44.
The only contender to Lingering Fog, this reduces your SS cost to 12 Disc. So you can cast it more often than Lingering Fog, but your overall net immunity is lower.

Choking Gas: Unlocked at level 59.
This rune creates a very small cloud of gas (4-6 yards) where you cast SS. This cloud does 70% weapon damage per second for 5 seconds to all creatures in it. That’s 350% damage over 5 seconds and that’s quite a lot of damage.

The issue is the short AoE and the fact that Lingering Fog and Special Recipe are so much better for this ability. SS is your survivability tool, not your damage tool. As a Demon Hunter, you’re stressed about living. Your damage is strong and comes from other, much better sources. So while it DOES do quite a bit of damage, I still recommend other runes.


The question really comes between Special Recipe and Lingering Fog. As I said, LF will provide far more immunity over the same period of time. But Special Recipe will give you more reliable breaks against Jailer and poor positioning.

It’s difficult to choose and heavily based on playstyle. In general, though, here is my advice:

—- If you rely on SS to tank damage for you and you’re running a low Disc build (AKA, you’re not running Caltrops and Vault with this) then choose Lingering Fog.

—- If you rely on SS purely for breaks and use kiting more often to avoid damage and use Caltrops/Vault for positioning, then use Special Recipe to lower the overall Disc usage from your break.

However, even noting that, use what fits your playstyle better. They’re both strong runes.

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1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Where's the info on these?:

    3) Shadow Power, lvl 16
    4) Vault, lvl 9
    5) Preparation, lvl 13

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