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Phoenix Strike Assassin PD2 Build

Phoenix Strike Assassin PD2 Build

Complete Build Guide for one of the most Interesting quasi-Melee Assassin builds in PD2

Phoenix Strike
Assassin Build

Updated for Season 2
 

Build notes:
June 06, 2021
-Build created

 

Build Overview

In season 2 of Project Diablo 2, Assassin is mostly about Traps (two trap-based Builds are ranked S on our Tier List. However, this does not mean that Traps are not the only things the Assassin is good at. On the contrary, the Class is very good at dealing direct Damage with its Martial Arts Skills. While not as strong as Traps, some of the Martial Arts are actually very strong. The Skill that deserves attention the most is the Phoenix Strike - a powerful offensive ability that deals Fire, Lightning, and Frost Damage which makes it extremely versatile (and the lack of damage type versatility is actually the weakness of Trapssins).

Below, we present you with our take on the Phoenix Strike Assassin build. The build's main strong point is its ability to deal different kinds of Damage with a single ability. You should try it especially if you like the Class but are tired of Traps. 

 

You can also check our other Best Project Diablo 2 Builds

 

 Pros  Cons
 Very versatile in terms of damage types   Might have some problems with Attack Rating 
 Good utility  Not as fast at clearing as Trap builds (but still very competitive) 
 Viable for pretty much all maps if geared well enough   

 

Skills

ATTRIBUTES
  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 can either add enough Dexterity to meet gear requirements or invest a bit more to boost your Attack Rating. The choice should depend on your gear (we recommend at least an 8000 Attack Rating). 
  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. 
MARTIAL ARTS

This skill tree is the main focus of this build. The build's main Skill - Phoenix Strike has 3 skills that synergize with it: Fists of Fire (+10% Fire Damage/Level and +6% Average Fire Damage per second/Level), Claws of Thunder (+13% Lightning Damage/Level), and Blades of Ice (+10% Cold Damage/Level) - we max all three of these and the Phoenix Strike itself. 

Skills:

  1. Tiger Strike [1/20] - Prerequisite. 
  2. Fists of Fire [20/20] - 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 claw-class weapons. This is an extremely strong early game Skill; you will use it a lot while leveling. 
  3. Cobra Strike [1/20] - Prerequisite. Consecutive hits with this Skill add mana and life steal to your finishing moves. 
  4. 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 claw-class weapons. 
  5. Blades of Ice [20/20] -  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. 
  6. Phoenix Strike [20/20] - The Build's Main Charge-up Skill. Consecutive hits made with Phoenix Strike add elemental Novas to your finishing moves. Can only be used with claw-class weapons. 

SHADOW DISCIPLINES

Shadow Disciplines allow us to improve our mobility, survivability, and damage output in combat. 

Skills:

  1. Claw and Dagger Mastery [X/20] - A passive skill that improves your skill with claw and dagger weapons. You should put all your remaining points here; doing so will provide you with a bit more physical damage and some much-needed extra attack rating. 
  2. Burst of Speed [X/20] - This is our 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). 
  3. 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. 
  4. Cloak of Shadows [1/20]  - A very nice utility Skill that allows you to blind nearby enemies lowering their defenses for some time. 
  5. 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. 
TRAPS

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: 

Skills:

  1. Blade Sentinel [1/20] - Prerequisite. 
  2. Blade Fury [1/20] - Prerequisite. 
  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. 

 

Items

Phoenix Strike'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. 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. 

HELMETS

Harlequin Crest (Shako) - You can't ever go wrong with Shako, especially if your build requires you to stack additional Skill levels. This Helmet gives you everything you might want - +2 to all skills, damage reduction, magic find, and some attributes. 

Harlequin Crest

  • Defense: 98 to 141 
  • Required Level: 62
  • Required Strength: 50
  • Durability: 20
    • +2 to All Skills 
    • +1-99 to Life(1 per character level) 
    • +1-99 to Mana(1 per character level) 
    • Damage Reduced By 3-5% (varies) 
    • 50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items 
    • +2 to All Attributes 

Delirium (Rune Word) - This Runeword will give you a solid boost to Magic Find and +2 to Skill Levels, which makes it very comparable to the first recommended option. It is a good alternative if you don't like the Harlequin Crest. 

Delirium

  • Defense: Depends on base Helmet
  • Required Level: 51
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Helmet
  • Durability: Depends on base Helmet
  • Lem + Ist + Io 
    • +261 Defense 
    • +10 Vitality 
    • +2 to All Skills
    • Level 17 Attract (60 Charges) 
    • 11% Chance to Cast Level 18 Confuse on Striking 
    • 6% Chance to Cast Level 14 Mind Blast When Struck 
    • 14% Chance to Cast Level 13 Terror When Struck 
    • +50% Extra Gold from Monsters
    • 25% Better Chance of Finding Magic Items 

Kira's Guardian (Tiara) - A very interesting Helmet that supplements the build's Damage by lowering enemy resistances (Phoenix Strike will benefit A LOT from this). It also increases your own resists by quite a lot. Moreover, it gives the most important stat of them all - Cannot Be Frozen

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) 

WEAPONS

[BiS] Bartuc's Cut-Throat (Greater Talons) - 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. You should go out of your way to obtain a pair of these. 

Plague

  • 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) 

[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. 

Claws

  • 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) 
WEAPON SWAP

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 

AMULETS

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 

ARMORS

Enigma (Runeword) - This powerful Chest Runeword provides everything you might want from an item, including +2 to All Skills, 3 charges of Blink,  and a very nice boost to Magic Find 

Enigma

  • 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 
    • Blink Charges 3/3 [Recharges 1 per 6 sec]
    • +500-775 Defense (varies) 
    • +(0.5*Clvl)-(0.75*Clvl) (varies) To Strength (Based On Character Level)
    • Increase Maximum Life 5%
    • Damage Reduced By 4%
    • 15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
    • +(0.5*Clvl)-(0.75*Clvl) % (varies) Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (Based On Character Level) 

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 +40-60 (varies) 
    • Damage reduced by 4% 
    • 25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items 

Stone (Runeword) - If you feel like you need additional defenses, you will like this one very much. Stone will greatly increase your overall survivability and still give you some offensive power in the form of +1 to all Skills. 

Stone

  • Defense: Depends on base Armor 
  • Required Level: 61 
  • Required Strength: Depends on base Armor 
  • Durability: Depends on base Armor 
  • Shael + Um + Pul + Lum 
    • Indestructible 
    • +1 to All Skills 
    • +60% Faster Hit Recovery 
    • +200-290% Enhanced Defense (varies) 
    • +10 - 16 To Strength (varies) 
    • +10 - 16 To Vitality (varies) 
    • +10 To Energy 
    • All Resistances +15 
    • Level 16 Clay Golem (36 Charges) 

RINGS

[BIS] 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 - One of the most iconic items in Diablo 2. It increases the level of all your Skills and your max Mana. A solid offensive choice. 

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) 

GLOVES

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. 

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 

Bloodfist (Heavy Gloves) - A solid defensively focused choice that will give you +30% faster hit recovery, a solid boost to Life, and +10% Attack Speed. 

Bloodfist

  • Defense: 17-18
  • Required Level: 9
  • Required Strength: -
  • Durability: 14
    • +10-20% Enhanced Defense 
    • +10 Defense 
    • +10% Increased Attack Speed 
    • +30% Faster Hit Recovery 
    • +40 To Life 
    • +5-10 to Maximum Damage 

BOOTS

[BiS] Waterwalk (Sharkskin Boots) - These boots are a top pick if you're looking to boost your Run/Walk Speed and Stamina by a lot. 

Waterwalk

  • 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 increases 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 

BELTS

Verdungo's Hearty Cord (Mithril Coil) - A very solid defensive option 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. 

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. 

Goldwrap

  • 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) - Top offensive choice for this build. +1 to All Skills will give you that extra bit of damage. 

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) 

CHARMS

  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. 

MERCENARY

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 Phoenix Strike. 
  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. 

 

END NOTE

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.