So far I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with what Blizzard did with the Demon Hunter. Compared to classes like the Barbarian and the Wizard, her gameplay feels a little bit off. That doesn’t mean the Demon Hunter doesn’t have a special place in my heart. I am totally into both her visual style and overall class concept. I just hope that, with a few tweaks here and there, they’ll manage to get her just right before the game gets released.
The Demon Hunter has two resources. The fast regenerating Hatred and the slow regenerating Discipline. Her abilities come in three flavors. We got Hatred Generators, Hatred Spenders and Discipline based abilities. I looked for:
- a single target Hatred Generator
- a single target Hatred Spender
- a travel ability (cause you can’t just not have one)
- some utility and buffs/debuffs
On my first visit to the skill section, I considered “Grenades“. But I couldn’t picture my Demon Hunter permanently throwing stuff, instead of just shooting the crap out of everything. With just 6 active skills, there isn’t any room for 2 Hatred Generators – so Grenades got the axe. I also liked the idea of dropping a “Sentry“, just to let it mess with all the baddies while I was busy focus firing stuff. Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice it for the benefit of more single target badassery. What I ended up with was a Discipline heavy, critical hit based build. Let’s have a look at it.
If you’re looking for straightforward single target damage, “Hungering Arrow” is your Hatred Generator. Paired with “Impale“, a no-funny-business single target Hatred Spender, you got your left-click/right-click damage routine all set up. On a successful crit, the Alabaster runes we put in both of them will provide AoE damage on the former, and extra damage on the latter. Most of “Vault“s runestones are pretty gimmicky. While Indigo and Golden both offer us more travel distance, “Acrobatics” (Indigo) takes us 25 yards further. Unfortunately, “Shadow Power” stays active for just 8 seconds. But with the lowered Discipline costs of “Well of Darkness” (Golden) we should be able to recast it at least a few times. I am still not sure about the rune selection for “Marked for Death“. “Grim Reaper” (Crimson) brings some additional AoE without sacrificing single target damage, giving us exactly the collateral damage we look for. Both “Valley of Death” (Obsidian) and “Contagion” (Indigo) provide us with a form of AoE Debuff that makes it unnecessary for us to cast the debuff again after our victim’s death. Especially the valley would be quite handy, as the enemies should be all in one spot anyways. What I miss with both of them is the actual marking the spell does for you – simplifying target selection for the whole crew. Last but not least is “Preparation“. Discipline starts at 30 points. Recasting “Shadow Power” will deplete our Discipline reserves pretty fast, and a complete “Invigoration” (Indigo), bringing us up to 42 Discipline again, should come in handy.
We decided to go a crit heavy route with taking Alabaster runes in both our Hatred abilities and “Shadow Power” and our marks need a steady supply of Discipline. So we’ll try to build our passives around that. “Sharpshooter” constantly increases our crit chance, while “Night Stalker” gives us back one point of Discipline with every crit we make. Combined with the reduced Discipline costs from “Perfectionist“, we should be peachy.
So we know what Gunvar, our friendly Barbarian is doing. But what about “Cassandra, the deadly Demon Hunter”? When the combat started, we had full Health, Hatred and Discipline. About two minutes earlier we clicked our Preparation, bringing our starting Discipline to a neat 42 points. The moment Gunvar’s shout is coming in, we mark a focus for everyone and cast Shadow Power. Being at 24 Discipline, we go with a few Impales, until our Hatred drops below 25. We switch to our arrows and alternate between both abilities. Eight seconds into the fight our buff drops, getting renewed at 9 – bringing us to 11 Discipline. At 16, our mark dies and we need another target (6 Discipline). At 17, we mark another target, before we pop Preparation at 18 and follow up buffing us again. Now it’s just renewing our selfbuff on 27, 36 and 45, while marking one more target at 42. This brings us to a total auf 44 Discipline. The 2 points we miss should be covered be natural Discipline regeneration. If we’re lucky and get 13 crits in those 30 seconds after Preparation, we might just be able to cast a last Shadow Power. Even if not, the Buff will be active for most of the fight.
The Demon Hunter relies a lot more on timing and coordination than our Barbarian. On the other hand, she doesn’t have to bind or control opponents – so with a little bit of training she should be fine. We should also keep in mind, that this routine isn’t something that’s supposed to be done for hours on end. It’s just for specific mob packs. What do you think? Are my calculations correct? Did I miss a skill? Are there cooler runestones I could use? As always I am waiting for your comments.