Games Marketplace - Odealo
0.00 25 (Click on the icon to view details)


Claws of Thunder Assassin Build for PD2

Claws of Thunder Assassin Build for PD2

Insanely powerful Martial Arts Build for Assassin class in Project Diablo 2

Claws of Thunder
Assassin Build

Updated for Season 4

Build notes:

January 31, 2022
-Build created 


Build Overview

Back in Season 2, Assassin's Martial Arts Skills Tree was completely reworked which has opened a lot of new build options. One of the new viable builds was the Claws of Thunder Assassin, however, it didn't perform as well as some other popular builds for the class. Luckily for it, Season 3 has brought a substantial buff to Claws of Thunder's scaling which has turned it into an S-tier ability. As of Season 4, the build remains exceedingly powerful and is very enjoyable to play. 

Below, we present you with our take on the Claws of Thunder Assassin build. The build's main strong point is its ability to deliver devastating amounts of Lightning Damage very quickly while blocking most of the incoming hits. Thanks to its amazing mobility and DPS, it achieves very high clear speeds and can easily be used for farming T3 maps. 

You can also check our other Best Project Diablo 2 Builds


 Pros  Cons
 Very High DPS   Focuses on a single Damage type - Lightning, so enemies with Lightning immunity might cause problems  
 Great Utility and Survivability   Top gear choices are quite expensive 
 Solid Mobility   



  1. Strength - All you want, in terms of Strength, is enough of it to equip everything you will want to use on your character. 
  2. Dexterity - You could go for Max Block, which is easily achievable with Stormshield and some additional Dex points. If you don't have a Stormshield and don't plan on using it - don't invest points here. 
  3. Vitality - You should put all your remaining points here - main stat. 
  4. Energy - Adding points to Energy is an extreme waste - don't do it. 

Claws of Thunder has only one synergy - Phoenix Strike. This opens quite a lot of points to be spent elsewhere. Some of these points should be used to unlock Dragon Flight, which is a great mobility skill. The rest of them will find their use in the two remaining skill trees. 


  1. Tiger Strike [1/20] - Prerequisite. Consecutive hits add damage bonuses based on the number of charges you have available and deplete on the third attack. Only usable while dual-wielding claws. 
  2. Dragon Talon [1/20] - Prerequisite.  Kick your enemies out of your way. This adds charged-up bonuses to the kick. 
  3. Fists of Fire [1/20] - Prerequisite. A Charge-up Skill. Consecutive hits made with Fists of Fire add Fire Damage and Fire Damage per Second to your finishing moves. Can only be used with claws and daggers. 
  4. Dragon Claw [1/20] - Prerequisite. Slice and dice your enemies with your dual claw-class weapons. This Skill adds charged-up bonuses to claw attacks. 
  5. Cobra Strike [1/20] - Prerequisite. Consecutive hits with this Skill add mana and life steal to your finishing moves. 
  6. Claws of Thunder [20/20] - A Charge-up Skill. Consecutive hits made with Claws of Thunder add Lightning Damage to your finishing moves. Can only be used with claws and daggers. This is the build's main offensive skill. It deals massive amounts of Lightning Damage. 
  7. Dragon Tail [1/20] - Prerequisite. You knock your enemies back with an explosive kick. This Skill adds charged-up bonuses to the kick. 
  8. Blades of Ice [1/20] - Prerequisite. A Charge-up Skill. Consecutive hits made with Blades of Ice add Cold Damage to your finishing moves. Can only be used with claw-class weapons. 
  9. Dragon Flight [1/20] - Teleport to your enemies and destroy them with a kick. This is a nice mobility skill you can use if you don't have Enigma (if you have one, you might still find this useful - just not necessary). 
  10. Phoenix Strike [20/20] - Consecutive hits made with Phoenix Strike add elemental Novas to your finishing moves. Can only be used with claws and daggers. This synergizes with Claws of Thunder and thus you should max it out. 


Shadow Disciplines allow you to improve your mobility, survivability, and damage output in combat. You should take full advantage of them by selecting the following skills: 


  1. Claw and Dagger Mastery [20/20] - A passive skill that improves your skill with claw and dagger weapons. You should max this one out; doing so will provide you with a solid damage and attack rating boost. 
  2. Psychic Hammer [1/20] - Prerequisite. Use the power of your mind to create a psychic blast to crush and knock back your enemies. 
  3. Burst of Speed [X/20] - This is your main utility skill. It gives a high boost to movement and attack speed for a period of time. The Burst of Speed provides an extremely solid mobility boost - you should have it active at all times. Put enough points here to get to the highest Attack Speed breakpoint (if you have enough high-end gear to make it, that is). 
  4. Weapon Block [1/20]  - A passive skill that gives you an increased chance to block when you're dual-wielding claws. This increases our defenses substantially; you should put all your remaining points here. 
  5. Cloak of Shadows [1/20]  - A very nice utility Skill that allows you to blind nearby enemies lowering their defenses for some time. 
  6. Mind Blast [1/20]  - Optional. Stun a group of enemies using the power of your mind. This might come in handy in some situations but is not really necessary. Pick it if you feel like you're in need of some additional CC/utility. 
  7. Shadow Warrior [1/20]  - Prerequisite. Allows the Assassin to create a "Shadow" of Herself. The Shadow is capable of using regular attacks and two Skills the Assassin has selected. You can control the abilities used by the Shadow by switching your active abilities on the Hotbar. 
  8. Fade [1/20]  - Optional. This increases all your elemental resistances for a period of time. Only take it if you struggle to get enough elemental resistances from gear. 
  9. Shadow Master [20/20]  - Allows the Assassin to create a powerful "Shadow Avatar". Unlike the regular Shadow, the Shadow Avatar has access to all Assassin Skills, even those you don't have unlocked. Avatar created by this is very tough and won't die too often. It will not only soak up damage and tank for you but also assist you by using Assassin abilities. 

Traps are not the focus of this build, but you can optionally spend a few points on them. If you decide to do this, here is our recommendation on what you should pick up: 


  1. Blade Sentinel [1/20] - Prerequisite. Set a spinning blade to patrol between you and the target point. 
  2. Blade Fury [1/20] - Prerequisite. Throw spinning blades to slice up your enemies. 
  3. Blade Shield [1/20] - A very useful Skill that slices enemies who wander too close to you with spinning blades. It synergizes very well with Life Leech - with Blade Shield active, regular monsters should not be able to even damage you. 



Claws of Thunder's Damage scales with its Skill Levels, so you want to get as many Skill levels (Assassin/Martial Arts) as possible to increase the build's overall power level. Moreover, bonus Lightning Damage and -Enemy Lightning Resistance affixes are extremely powerful for the build and should be stacked if possible. Resistances are also important, but they should never come before the offensive power. Defensive stats, like faster hit recovery, are a nice addition but you should not choose gear for them specifically. 


Griffon's Eye (Diadem) - This is the top Helmet option for this build as it not only boosts your Lightning Damage but it also decreases enemies' lightning resistance. Moreover, it gives you one extra Skill level to boost your DPS even higher. 

Griffon's Eye

  • Defense: 150 - 260
  • Required Level: 76
  • Durability: 20  
    • +100-200 Defense (varies) 
    • +1 to All Skills 
    • 25% Faster Cast Rate 
    • -(15-20)% to Enemy Lightning Resistance (varies) 
    • +(10-15)% to Lightning Skill Damage (varies) 

Kira's Guardian (Tiara) - A very interesting Helmet that supplements the build's Damage by lowering enemy resistances. It also increases your own resists by quite a lot. Moreover, it gives the most important stat of them all - Cannot Be Frozen. While it's not as strong offensively as Griffon's, it will give you more survivability and it's cheaper. 

Kira's Guardian

  • Defense: 90 to 170 
  • Required Level: 77 
  • Required Strength: -
  • Durability: 25
    • +50-120 Defense (varies) 
    • 20% Faster Hit Recovery 
    • Cannot Be Frozen
    • All Resistances +25-45 (varies) 
    • -(5-10)% to Enemy Lightning Resistance (varies) 
    • -(5-10)% to Enemy Cold Resistance (varies) 
    • (5-10)% to Enemy Fire Resistance (varies) 


Note: With this build, you can either dual-wield Claws to maximize your Damage damage at the cost of survivability or maximize your survivability by equipping a shield in your off-hand. We've prepared recommendations for both approaches. 

Bartuc's Cut-Throat (Greater Talons) - This is the top choice for pretty much every Assassin focused around dealing elemental damage. These Claws can give you up to +4 to Martial Arts Skills, which is massive. Moreover, they give a lot of bonus stats and have a solid 20% bonus to Attack Rating. 

Bartuc's Cut-Throat

  • Damage:  (97-121) To (182-226) (139.5-173.5 Avg)(Base Damage: 24-44) 
  • Required Level: 42
  • Required Dexterity: 79
  • Required Strength: 79
  • Durability: 69  
    • +200%-300% Enhanced Damage (varies) 
    • Adds 25-50 Damage 
    • 30% Faster Hit Recovery 
    • 20% Bonus to Attack Rating 
    • 5-9% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) 
    • +20 To Strength 
    • +20 To Dexterity 
    • +2 To Assassin Skill Levels 
    • +1-2 To Martial Arts Skills (Assassin Only) (varies) 

Plague (Runeword) - A good alternative to Firelizard's Talons. Plague provides a solid offensive boost (including skill increases) and some utility. If you put it in good Claws, the results will be astonishing (we recommend Greater Talons). 


  • Damage:  Depends on base Weapon
  • Required Level: 67
  • Required Dexterity: Depends on base Weapon
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Weapon
  • Durability: Depends on base Weapon 
  • Cham + Fal + um  
    • 25% Chance To Cast Level 15 Poison Nova On Striking 
    • 20% Chance To Cast Level 12 Lower Resist When Struck 
    • Level [13-17] Cleansing Aura when Equipped (varies)
    • +1-2 All Skills 
    • +20% Faster Cast Rate
    • +260-380% Damage To Demons (varies)
    • -20% To Enemy Poison Resistance 
    • [0-37]% Deadly Strike (0.375% per Character Level)
    • 25% Chance Of Open Wounds 
    • Freezes Target +3 
    • +10 To Strength 

Stormspike (Stiletto) - Since Assassin Skills now also work with Daggers, this is also a viable option. With it, you will greatly increase your Lightning Damage and pierce through enemy Lightning Resistances with ease. The main downside of Stormstrike is that it does not give you any Attack Rating or Skills. 


  • Damage:  94.5-120.5 
  • Required Level: 41
  • Required Dexterity: 97
  • Required Strength: 47
  • Durability: 48  
    • 75% Chance to Cast Level 23 Charged Bolt when Struck 
    • +[175-250]% Enhanced Damage (varies) 
    • Adds 1 to [240-360] Lightning Damage (varies) 
    • Attacker Takes Lightning Damage of [60-120] (varies) 
    • +20% to Lightning Skill Damage 
    • -[10-20]% to Enemy Lightning Resistance (varies) 
    • 20% Deadly Strike 

[Alternative/Budget] Magic Claws with +3 to Martial Arts. These can be purchased in Act V from Anya. Claws like this are enough for the early ladder and provide a nice early power boost. 


  • Damage:  Depends on the Weapon
  • Required Level: Varies
  • Required Dexterity: Depends on the Weapon
  • Required Strength: Depends on the Weapon
  • Durability: Depends on the Weapon 
    • +3 To Martial Arts (Assassin Only) 

Stormshield (Monarch) - A BiS defensive option that will allow you to achieve Max Block. Pick it if you prefer a defensive playstyle. 


  • Defense: 136-519 (Depends on your level)
  • Required Level: 73
  • Required Strength: 156
  • Durability: Indestructible
    • +3-371 Defense (+3.75/level) 
    • 25% Increased Chance of Blocking 
    • 35% Faster Block Rate
    • 20-30% Physical Damage Taken Reduction 
    • +40-50% Cold Resist 
    • +25% Lightning Resist 
    • +20-30 Strength 
    • Indestructible 
    • Attacker Takes Lightning Damage of 150-250 (varies)

Call to Arms (Rune Word) - This powerful Runeword will allow you to pre-buff yourself up with Warcries (buffs persist through weapon swap). 

Call to Arms

  • Defense: Depends on base Weapon 
  • Required Level: 57
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Weapon ​​​​​
  • Durability: Depends on base Weapon 
  • Amn • Ral • Mal • Ist
    • +1 to All Skills 
    • +40% Increased Attack Speed 
    • +250-290% Enhanced Damage 
    • Adds 5-30 Fire Damage 
    • 7% Life Stolen Per Hit 
    • +2-6 To Battle Command 
    • +1-6 To Battle Orders 
    • +1-4 To Battle Cry 
    • Prevent Monster Heal 
    • Replenish Life +12 
    • 30% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items 

Lidless Wall (Grim Shield) - A very powerful Shield that grants up to +2 Skills and high FCR. Good to have on swap for that additional Skill Levels. 

Lidless Wall

  • Defense: 271 - 347
  • Required Level: 41
  • Required Strength: 58
  • Durability: 70
    • +80-130% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • +1-2 to All Skills (varies) 
    • Increase Maximum Mana 10% 
    • 20% Faster Cast Rate 
    • +4-6 to Mana After Each Kill (varies) 
    • +10 to Energy 
    • +1 to Light Radius 


Mara's Kaleidoscope - A great combination of offensive (+2 to all skills) and defensive (+20-30 to all resistances) properties. This is one of the best Amulets in PD2 overall and it fits most of the builds, which makes it a good investment. 

Mara's Kaleidoscope

  • Required Level: 67
    • +2 To All Skills 
    • All Resistances +20-30 (varies) 
    • +5 To All Attributes 

[Alternative] Rare/Magic Amulets with + Assassin/Martial Arts Skills are great budget choices and solid fillers before you are able to get Mara's Kaleidoscope. 

Amulet Amulet

  • Required Level: varies. 
  • In Magic Amulets, look for:
    • +3 to Martial Arts  
  • In Rare Amulets, look for:
    • +2 Assassin Skills 
    • Magic Find 
    • Resistances 
    • Attributes 


Enigma (Runeword) - If you want extra damage, survivability, Magic Find, and mobility, you should definitely go for Enigma. It's a solid all-around choice that provides pretty much everything you might want from an item. 


  • Defense: Depends on base Armor 
  • Required Level: 65 
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Armor 
  • Durability: Depends on base Armor 
  • Jah + Ith + Ber  
    • +2 To All Skills 
    • +25% Faster Run/Walk 
    • Level 1 Blink* (5/5 Charges)
      Replenish 1 Charge in 3 Seconds
    • +500-775 Defense (varies) 
    • +[0-74] to Strength (+[0.5-0.75] per Character Level) (varies)
    • Increase Maximum Life 5%
    • Damage Reduced By 4%
    • 15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
    • [0-74]% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items ([0.5-0.75]% per Character Level) (varies)

Chains of Honor (Runeword) - Very strong runeword that mixes solid defenses (resistances, leech, and enhanced def) with a nice +2 bonus to all Skills. 

Chains of Honor

  • Defense: Depends on base Armor 
  • Required Level: 65 
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Armor 
  • Durability: Depends on base Armor 
  • Dol + Um + Ber + Ist 
    • +2 To All Skills 
    • +200% Damage to Demons 
    • +100% Damage to Undead 
    • 8% Life stolen per hit 
    • +70% Enhanced Defense 
    • +20 Strength 
    • Replenish Life +10 
    • All Resistances +50-60 (varies) 
    • Physical Damage reduced by 4% 
    • 25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items 

Ormus' Robes (Dusk Shroud) - This Armor works very well with Claws of Thunder, as it boosts Lightning Damage. Think of it as a bit less powerful Griffon's Eye in the Chest slot. 

Ormus' Robes

  • Defense: 361-467 
  • Required Strength: 77
  • Required Level: 75
    • +20% Faster Cast Rate 
    • +[10-15]% to Fire Skill Damage (varies) 
    • +[10-15]% to Lightning Skill Damage (varies) 
    • +[10-15]% to Cold Skill Damage (varies) 
    • +3 to [Random Sorceress Skill*] (Sorceress Only) 
    • +[10-20] Defense (varies) 
    • Regenerate Mana [10-15]% (varies) 


Raven Frost - This ring provides Freeze immunity which is extremely important to have. If you have freeze immunity from another item (like the Kira's Guardian), you can choose a different ring.  

Raven Frost

  • Required Level: 76
    • +150-250 Attack Rating (varies) 
    • 15-45 Cold Damage 
    • +15-20 Dexterity (varies) 
    • +40 Mana 
    • Cold Absorb 5-10% (varies) 
    • Cannot be Frozen 

Bul-Kathos Wedding Band - A  great ring that adds +1 to Skills. It also increases stamina and gives some nice life steal. 

Bul-Kathos Wedding Band

  • Required Level: 58
    • +1 To All Skills 
    • + (0.5 Per Character Level) 0-49 To Life) 
    • 3-5% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) 
    • +50 Maximum Stamina 

The Stone of Jordan - If you're after some more offensive power, you could also choose this one. Stone of Jordan increases the level of all your Skills and your max Mana. 

The Stone of Jordan 

  • Required Level: 29
    • +1 to All Skills
    • Maximum Mana to 15-20% 
    • Adds 1-120 Lightning Damage 
    • +20-40 to Mana (varies) 


Dracul's Grasp (Vampirebone Gloves) - These Gloves are great if you want extra attack speed and Life Leech. They also give a high strength bonus which is very convenient for choosing equipment for other gear slots. You could also use Rare gloves with +20% Attack Speed and +2/3 Skills. 

Dracul's Grasp

  • Defense: 125 - 145
  • Required Level: 76
  • Required Strength: - 50
  • Durability: 14
    • +90-120% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • +10-15 to Strength (varies) 
    • +5-10 Life After Each Kill (varies) 
    • 25% Chance of Open Wounds 
    • 7-10% Life Stolen Per Hit (varies) 
    • 20% Increased Attack Speed 

Lightning Magefist (Light Gauntlets) - These gloves give +1 to Lightning Skills which automatically makes them very powerful for the build. Moreover, they increase your Cast Rate and improve your mana regen. They work especially well if you decide to go for Enigma (because of the FCR). 

Lightning Magefist

  • Defense: 24 - 25 
  • Required Level: 23
  • Required Strength: 45
  • Durability: 18
    • +1 to [Fire, Lightning, Cold, or Poison] Skills 
    • +20% Faster Cast Rate 
    • Adds 6-36 Fire Damage or Adds 1-45 Lightning Damage or Adds 10-18 Cold Damage or +60 Poison Damage over 3 Seconds
    • +[20-30]% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • +10 Defense 
    • Regenerate Mana [10-25]% (varies) 


Waterwalk (Sharkskin Boots) - These boots are a top pick if you're looking to boost your Run/Walk Speed and Stamina while also taking care of your survivability. 


  • Defense: 112-124
  • Required Level: 32
  • Required Strength: 47
  • Kick Damage: 28-50
  • Durability: 14  
    • +180-210% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • 40% Faster Run/Walk 
    • 20% Faster Block Rate 
    • +15 to Dexterity 
    • +5% to Maximum Fire Resist 
    • Heal Stamina Plus 50% 
    • +40 to Maximum Stamina 
    • +45-65 to Life (varies) 

War Traveler's (Battle Boots) - The best pair if you want to increase your Loot by boosting MF stat. They also provide decent Movement Speed and extra STR/VIT. 

War Traveler's

  • Defense: 120-139 
  • Required Level: 42
  • Required Strength: 95
  • Kick Damage: 37-64 
  • Durability: 48
    • +150-190% Enhanced Defense 
    • 25% Faster Run/Walk 
    • +10 to Vitality 
    • +10 to Strength 
    • Adds 15-25 Damage 
    • +40% Slower Stamina Drain 
    • Attacker Takes Damage Of 5-10 
    • 30-50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items 


Verdungo's Hearty Cord (Mithril Coil) - A top-level defensive belt that offers a Faster Hit Recovery bonus, an insanely high boost to maximum stamina, and up to 40 (!) Vitality, but mostly, it gives up to 15% Reduced Damage. Pick this one if you want to feel extra safe. 

Verdungo's Hearty Cord


  • Defense: 125-158
  • Potion Slots: 16 
  • Required Level: 63
  • Required Strength: 106
  • Durability: 16
    • +90-140% Enhanced Defense 
    • 10% Faster Hit Recovery  
    • +30-40 To Vitality 
    • Replenish Life +10-13 
    • +100-120 Maximum Stamina 
    • Damage Reduced By 10-15% 

Goldwrap (Heavy Belt) - An interesting choice for this build; it grants quite a lot of Attack Speed, some defense, and high Magic Find which is great for farming. 


  • Defense: 34-36 
  • Potion Slots: 12 
  • Required Level: 27
  • Required Strength: 45
  • Durability: 18
    • +40-60% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • +25 Defense 
    • 20% Increased Attack Speed 
    • 20-40% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items (varies) 
    • 50-80% Extra Gold From Monsters (varies) 
    • +2 To Light Radius  

Arachnid Mesh (Spiderweb Sash) - If you want some extra damage from your belt, this is the best option. 

Arachnid Mesh

  • Defense: 119-138 
  • Potion Slots: 16 
  • Required Level: 80
  • Required Strength: 50
  • Durability: 12
    • +90-120% Enhanced Defense  
    • Slows Target by 20% 
    • +1 To All Skills 
    • +10-20% Faster Cast Rate 
    • Maximum Mana 5-10% 
    • Level 3 Venom (31 Charges) 


  1. Annihilus - This fabled Charm boosts your Skills, Stats, and Resistances. It's the best Unique Small Charm, and it's limited to just 1 in your equipment. 
  2. Gheed's Fortune - The secret to Gheed's wealth and prosperity. Pretty much a must-have if you're after the best available charms. It adds 80-160% extra gold from monsters, reduces vendor prices by up to 15%, and gives up to 40% better magic find. 
  3. Hellfire Torch - The BiS Unique Large Charm that increases your Vitality, Skills, and more. 
  4. Grand Charms - These should have +Martial Arts. 
  5. Small Charms - With these, you should get your desired Resistances, bonuses to Life, or bonuses to Magic Find - whatever suits your needs, basically. 


We recommend picking up Act 2 Defiance Mercenary for extra damage mitigation bonuses. He should be equipped with: 

  1. Infinity Rune Word in Ethereal Spear - This provides Conviction Aura, which reduces the defenses and resistances of nearby enemies and offers very high bonus damage. A top (and expensive) choice for any Act2 merc build. It will greatly increase your own Damage, as lowering enemy resistances has a strong synergy with Claes of Thunder. 
  2. Fortitude Rune Word in Armor - This will ensure that your merc doesn't die (it will make him almost immortal). 
  3. Steelrend Gloves - For massive damage bonus and Crushing Blow. 
  4. Andariel's Visage - An extremely solid and versatile headgear that will make your merc better in all respects. 
  5. String of Ears - Very high damage reduction and excellent survivability boost. 
  6. Goblin Toe - For extra damage and the chance for a crushing blow. 



This is our premiere Project Diablo 2 build where we tried to include all of the important information on how to set up this character while keeping the guide as compact as possible. If we've missed something of importance, please let us know! 

If you have any Build requests, please post them in the Comments section below. We will be happy to cover your most requested builds in the future! Also, we hope that you have found this guide useful and informative. Also, we will be happy to receive constructive criticism that will help us improve our future work, so don't hesitate to give us your feedback. 

Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment.