Quick guide on one of the strongest marksman builds available, especially with SSF/poor gear due to the huge amount of free damage scaling you get from trees. I’ve been playing this in HCSSF and breezing through everything so far.
This build aims for high mana cost, extremely high damage Hail of Arrow, with a 0 cost attack to regain mana/hp. Maxing Elemental Arrows + Elemental Barrage + Siege Quiver (with 1 point in Fire and Steel) means you’ll always have capped elemental resists, as well as 96 flat damage to elemental bow attacks. Fire and Steel means every Hail of Arrows will have 3 elemental arrows for the full buff, making flat damage on weapons not particularly important. Max Ethereal Arrows + Mana Wrap (and no mana efficiency on gear) provides 525% increased bow damage to your hail of arrows, meaning you can mostly ignore other % damage passives. Coated Blades in base Rogue is another more multiplier, put as many points as your mana can sustain. All other passive points can be movement speed/defensive.
Focus on defensive stats. Cold or fire penetration is the only offensive stat that really helps. %dmg is fairly bad unless there are no good defensive prefixes for that slot (e.g. weapon/quiver). About 20-30 total flat dexterity is plenty for Shift, otherwise get %dodge prefix. After that, resists, glancing blow, crit strike avoidance are your friends. Make sure you have enough max mana for shift + 2x Hail of Arrows, around 180 with maxed Coated Blades (going into negative from the 2nd is fine). After that, keep your attack speed at a high rate as you have a lot of flat mana/life on hit.
Mana efficiency can definitely be used on the build. Although it reduces your damage a little, it does make it easier to use your supporting skills like smoke bomb. Eventually, I think it’s worth aiming for this on gear, but only when you are a high enough level that giving up the 70% damage won’t matter.
Increased hail of arrows duration, health gained on glancing blow, ward gained on xxx, dodge gained when hit, dusk shroud when hit and extra black arrows are nice rogue specific suffixes to look for.
Uniques: nothing really needed or a huge deal for you. Hell Reach is pretty good for fire setups though, pretty close to a 3xt5 Osprix, as fire penetration will affect about 70% of your damage.
- Hail of Arrow - converted to either fire or cold (fire is higher dmg, cold is more defensive). After that, max duration and % dmg per second, rest of the points are up to you but should be split between area and damage. Don’t put any points in -mana cost. If you can sustain the mana, Skystrike is really good, as it’s a direct hit that will trigger things like slow/blind/frailty on gear. It also appears to do about 3 ticks worth of damage (like 15k-20k on dummy)
- Mechanics note: hail of arrows seems to use 100% of base damage while hitting 5x per second. It’s a damage over time, which means it ignores things like “enemies block hits when you’re far away”. Also, crit doesn’t affect it, making gearing/tree very easy. With %CDR on gear and %duration, you can stack about 3.5 on a target for 18 hits a second. Decent gear and % more multipliers should bring this to about 150k damage per second with all stacked on an enemy.
- Basic attack - either flurry or puncture, just spec’d for maximum attack speed. If you’re using flurry, put points in mana gained on hit. The slow node on 3rd strike is good too, if you’re using it put 3 points in for max slow immediately.
- Dark Quiver - max nightfall and 3-5 points in Until Dawn will provide constant dodge/glancing blow. Other points are up to you, personally I went max arrows + arrow speed to turn it into a great defensive ability. Archer’s Focus doesn’t increase mana cost, but instead consumes arrows, and I’d recommend against too many points as it’ll ruin mana sustain because it works on 0 mana cost abilities too.
- Shift - get the more damage and movement speed, rest is up to you (flat dodge is nice, jade arrows are pretty bad)
- Last skill - up to you, Decoy or Smoke Bomb. I prefer smoke for silver shroud and ailment cleansing, but Decoy is also very nice as it can apply 8-15 (20 fire) stacks of cold/fire shred instantly. Throwing 3 decoys does appear to increase the # of shreds applied, but keep in mind it’ll also increase the mana cost.
Weave basic attack and hail of arrows. Shift around and try to use hail of arrows after, not a basic attack. You can have 80-140% increased movement speed, 60% dodge, 100% glancing blows with capped resist, making it a fast and tanky farmer for HC. Hail of Arrows also has great aoe coverage and can stack, making both clear and single target excellent.
- Optimal play requires weaving skills and using in correct order (honestly if this is a con for you, you probably shouldn’t be playing any rogue builds)
- All of the damage is hail of arrows (ignoring the variant below), all of your damage is in hail of arrows so if you place it poorly then you’re waiting 1.7s for the cd.
- Visual clutter - hail of arrows has a pretty intrusive animation that will cover like 1/3 of the screen once you get some AoE scaling.
- Mana issues while farming - hail of arrows with skystrike will often one shot things, so you can’t basic attack to regain mana. A little mana regen can help with this if you have open suffixes, otherwise try to attack a bit before dropping hail of arrows.
Pure elemental setup ignoring Elemental Arrows and using cinder strike + fire hail of arrows is also extremely strong. With t6/t7 gear it will eventually outdps this build at the cost of tankiness. Keep in mind that any build that doesn’t use elemental arrows + fire and steel is going to be very reliant on t6-t7 flat damage on bow and quiver in order to get the base damage to a value comparable to melee.