Martial Arts - Phoenix Sin Guide


Hey, in this guide we will go over how I like to gear and play the Phoenix Sin in D2r. I’ve also included a section on how you can download the character file for single player so you can try it yourself.

I didn’t invent the spec, but I personally really enjoy it and this is how I’ve come to refine the gear, gameplay, and skills. The build can be played with relatively cheap gear, and doesn’t require end game items, like Infinity, to be efficient, but once obtained the spec goes over the top.

Here’s how I like to play and build the char:
Current Version = Patch 1.167


Guide Coming when 2.4 is live

But for now, here’s a Players 7, 5:30 Chaos Run (not including River of Flame and Bugged HP Diablo) on the PTR:

1.0 Gear and Stats:
1.1 D2Planner Gear Sets:

There are 6 different gear sets in there; 3 different basic sets, what I consider to be perfect gear, and my own current gear set in D2r non-ladder. These are examples of how you can build your char to achieve the required stats.

Disclaimer: you don’t need these exact stats and pieces of gear, these are just examples, use the best of what you have. Ex 11% Fire Res SC’s aren’t required, but any XX% Fire Res SC will help

1.2 Attack Speed:

Obtaining the final 7 frame attack speed breakpoint for both Phoenix Strike and Normal attack, while being slowed by Decrep/Holy freeze, is the most important thing to focus on. We are essentially a Sorc who’s FCR is based off of IAS, meaning we do not want our Attack speed to ever be hindered. To do this we will use BoS and stack a decent chunk of IAS. Section “3.0 Animation Breakpoints:” will go over this in much more detail.

1.3 Damage Modifiers:

When gearing for the phoenix sin, our physical damage isn’t all that important imo. So things such as, the Might Aura Merc, Fortitude, and the likes, can be ignored. When gearing up, we need to focus on things that will give us + Skills to boost the dmg of Phoenix Strike.

1.4 Mana/Resource Management:

Mana isn’t a huge issue for this spec, but we still require some way to supplement it. We can rely on a few different things, I recommend you pick at least one:

Cobra Strike:
This skill is easily the best way to supplement your mana pool. Once you start to run really low on mana, or start fighting mana burn monsters, just charge up at least 2 strikes of CS and you’ll be able to fill up quite easily. With all of our +skills, your CS will be able to leach a ton of mana and life with the skill.

% Damage to Mana:
The more you have the better, it can easily be obtained from Naj’s chest, on your IAS Jewels, and some other open slots. It doesn’t provide constant mana, because you need to be hit for it to work, but it will definitely help offset mana costs and your reliance on potions. It also works great to negate the mana burn from Stormcasters, giving you back some mana as you get damaged.

Mana Leech:
This stat can help a bit with resources, unfortunately since we don’t deal a ton of physical damage, it doesn’t always regen a lot of mana. It returns enough for constant PS use, but it might have some trouble supporting other spells as well or negating mana burn.

Just using mana potions, and not having any other resource supplement is viable, but you’ll definitely have random moments with resource issues, especially vs stormcasters. I like to keep potions in reserve and rely on something else.

Mana per Kill
I personally don’t recommend relying on this stat for mana. Unfortunately Phoenix Strike charges, and Death Sentries, do not count as “you” and will not provide MpK. Only monsters you kill with your claw will return mana, and that’s not gonna happen very often. The charges from PS and DS’s CE are almost guaranteed to kill the monster, not you.

Ultimately, you can just rely on potions, since none of the stats provide consistent/great mana regen, but I don’t recommend it. A little extra mana regen will help a lot in the long run.

1.5 Defensive stats:

Since we are melee, it is important to be quite durable. You’re going to want to max out your resistances as best you can, the higher the better. The chest piece is often a great slot to do this. Obtaining some physical damage reduction is also vital, we’re gonna be hit quite often so getting it on String of Ears, Shako, or Verdungos can help.

Stacking life leech on slots can also help here. As much as it has the same issues of Mana Leech, it is possible to stack this stat to much higher values, negating some of the issues Mana Leech experiences.

1.6 Merc:

The most important thing here is to have him provide extra “chance to hit”, be it from Blessed Aim’s attack rating boost, or Convictions reduction to enemy defense.

I recommend using the Act 2 Holy Freeze Merc, when using Infinity, it will make enemies move and attack a lot slower, allowing for easier charge management. Blessed Aim and Reapers Toll is the next best bet until you have Infinity. Decrepify will provide slowing as well as damage reduction, it’ll increase the physical portion of Death Sentry, and Blessed Aim provides some much need Attack Rating.

The Might merc is also viable, but not as useful as the other two, because we don’t care about our physical damage that much and we’re really lacking attack rating.

2.0 Attributes:
2.1 Strength = Enough to hold gear:

Pretty standard here, but first make sure you have enough dext to equip your claws. Both claws come with +20 Str and this will help you equip Shadow Dancers. With that said, you won’t have enough strength for Shadow Dancers or Spirit Monarch shield on weapon swap because of the +40 Str from 2x bartuc’s, but just use Lidless Wall/Splendor shield instead. You get more life by stacking the points you’d use to hold the monarch into vitality, and you’ll want your Bartuc’s active when casting Shadow Skills, so Shadow Dancers will be active.

2.2 Dext = Enough to hold gear:

Extra dexterity doesn’t hurt, it adds a tiny bit of physical damage and much appreciated attack rating, but all that’s needed to equip Bartuc’s is enough

2.3 Vit = Dump remaining here:

Not much needed to be said here, once you got your gear equipped, dump the rest here

3.0 Animation Breakpoints:
3.1 What are breakpoints?

Breakpoints is a term used to describe the threshold value in which increasing a stat actually corresponds to faster animations when playing the game. When stacking stats like Faster Cast Rate, Faster Hit Recovery, or Increased Attack Speed, you aren’t always guaranteed to actually increase the animation speed. You must stack an amount equal to or greater than specific threshold values to see an increase in animation speed.

For example: if you have 60% Faster Hit Recovery because of your 2x bartuc’s claws, you are currently at the 48%→85% FHR breakpoint meaning if you’re put into hit recovery, it will take 5 frames to recover. Any value of FHR between 48%→85% will always equate to a 5 frame hit recovery, you must obtain 86%, or more, to move into the 4 frame hit recovery breakpoint.

Faster Cast Rate works in the exact same manor, but also have a thing called the Action Frame. This is the frame, during the Frame Rate length, in which the character will actually cast the spell. The sooner the Action Frame comes up, the less likely you are to be interrupted when casting and the earlier you will actually cast the spell during the animation. Some Action Frame breakpoints fall in between Frame Rate breakpoints, meaning you’ll cast the spell sooner, but it will still take the same amount of frames to finish casting the spell. Action Frame breakpoints are good to be aware of, but Frame Rate breakpoints are much more important. I’ve included a table in both sections to reference the breakpoints.

Attack speed functions in a similar fashion, you must pass certain thresholds of IAS on gear, skills, and weapon to hit different frame rates, but it’s a lot more complicated overall. You’re best to just use an APS Calculator or Character builder to figure those out.

You can use this attack speed calculator here:

3.2 Attacks per second = 7 Frame Breakpoints:

We’re going to want to attack as fast as we can so we can “cast” our charges as quickly as possible. To do this we will obtain the 7 frame BP for Phoenix Strike and Normal Attack. It’s also possible to completely negate the slowing affect of Decrepify or Holy Freeze, so this will be the goal.

Depending on the amount of IAS on your gear, you will need a varying level of Burst of Speed. Having a Shael or IAS jewel in your claw will help towards reaching those BPs, but we’re short on resistances and it’s not required to max out our APS. Since they aren’t required, if geared correctly, you’re better off putting all resistance jewels in the claws. If you can afford IAS All Resist jewels, even better, but once again, not required.

You can use this table to figure out your BoS lvl req when using these combos of IAS on Gear and Claw:

Burst of Speed Level

IAS on Claw
0% 15% 20%
50% 26 13 11
IAS 55% 21 11 9
on 60% 15 9 8
Gear 65% 13 8 7
70% 11 7 6

The current downloaded able character (1 Basic Gear, in D2 Planner) has 70% IAS on Gear, with 0% IAS on Claw. Following the chart, we’ll see we require a level 11 Burst of Speed to negate Decrepify/Holy Freeze. If we were to equip the other basic set (2 Basic Gear, in D2 Planner), we’d have the same stats and must obtain a level 11 Burst of Speed. With the perfect gear (3 Perfect Gear, in D2 Planner), we have 50% IAS on Gear, and an IAS Jewel for 15% IAS on Claw; so we require a level 13 Burst of Speed. There are many possible combinations, just make sure you can’t be slowed by Holy Freeze or Decrepify when gearing.

3.3 Faster Hit Recovery:

Between 2x Bartucs and Shadow Dancers, you obtain the final 86% FHR breakpoint with a total of 90%. Verdungo’s and Sandstorm Trek can also be paired together to obtain the extra 26 needed. You can also get it on your martial art gcs, and potentially small charms if you wanted, but they’ll be hard to find or more expensive to trade for. The assassin’s natural Block Hit Recovery frames are 5, so I recommend at least running 48%+ at all times for consistency and smooth gameplay.

Her FHR Breakpoints are:

FHR Frame Rate
0% 9
7% 8
15% 7
27% 6
48% 5
86% 4
200% 3

3.4 Faster Cast Rate:

This will help with when casting Mind Blast, but FCR is not necessary, it’s just a luxury stat. You can get some on your Amulet or Rare ring, and it also comes with Arachnid Mesh or Vipermagi. There’s a few slots where you can obtain some FCR, but like I mentioned, its not a necessity.

Her FCR Breakpoints are:

FCR Frame Rate Action Frame
0% 16 9
8% 15
15% 8
16% 14
27% 13
39% 7
42% 12
65% 11
86% 6
102% 10
174% 9

4.0 Skills:

Charge skill = Phoenix Strike
Release skill = Normal Attack
Utility skills = Death Sentry, Shadow Warrior, Dragon Flight, Burst of Speed, Blade Shield, Mind Blast
Passive skills = Claw Mastery, Weapon Block

4.1 Order to Max Out Skills:
  • 1 point into everything needed to unlock all required skills
  • Obtain the appropriate Burst of Speed level, and then max in this order: Phoenix Strike, Fists of Fire, Claws of Thunder, and max Blades of Ice last
  • Dump remaining surplus skills into Death Sentry as you continue to level up

Level 91+, and all skill quests completed, are needed to unlock and max out all required skills.

4.2 Phoenix Strike:

Charge 1 - Meteor
is extremely powerful, but will be your secondary attack. You can stack a lot of meteors on enemies, and since you’re melee, monsters will generally stand still fighting you making them easy to hit with the meteor. The burning flames also rip through enemies extremely fast, stacking up to insane amounts of damage, and the tooltip is actually misleading in regards to burn dmg. It can easily out pace the DPS of Chaos Lightning but it doesn’t reach out very far and there are lots of fire immunes. It’s amazing in the right circumstances though.

for more info on Meteor’s burn dmg, check out section:
“6.6 FAQ: Meteor’s tooltip is misleading? How so?”

Charge 2 - Chaos Lightning
is gonna be your main source of damage, this charge releases a lightning storm. The attack functions similar to the sorc’s skills, but is a combination of both Lightning and Chain Lightning. The bolts will seek monsters but will also deal AoE to all enemies it passes through, unlike the sorc’s chain lightning which only hurts those it bounces too. The bolt will expire if it makes contact with an object/wall, but when used in a large enough area, they can actually turn around and strike a group of monsters a 2nd time.

Charge 3 - Frozen Orb
is interesting. Charge 1 and 2 are your main sources of damage, but you’ll still want to max out the synergy for the cold version of PS. Ideally, it doesn’t get used often, but you’ll without a doubt run into moments when you need it, and you’ll accidentally go to 3 charges, instead of 2, from time to time. Might as well get as much damage out of it as possible instead of it being a total whiff. The 3rd charge also freezes the enemies it hits, and they get frozen for a decent chunk of time. The frozen mobs are great to fight and manage charges against, fulfilling the same role as Mind Blast. Sometimes it’s worth releasing one for this reason and not interrupting the attack cycles by slow casting MB.

4.3 Normal Attack:

The reason we use the Normal Attack, instead of Dragon Claw or something else, is that the attack frame rates sync up better with Phoenix Strike and DC wastes valuable frames during attack cycles. DC swings one claw for 4 frames and the other at 6 frames, for a total of 10 frames per click. Where NA and PS swing at 7 frames, so they consume less frames to achieve the same result. Beyond that, DC can only spend the charges once, so if the first claw releases the charge, the extra claw swinging is just a total waste of 6 frames. These could have been used to build another charge stack for the next release. The game runs at 25 frames per second, meaning:

Phoenix Strike and Dragon Claw:

PS = 7 Frames
DC = 10 Frames

Meteors per second:
= 25 Frames / (PS+DC)
= 25 / (7+10)
= 25 / 17
= 1.47 Meteors per second

Chaos Lightning per second:
= 25 / (PS+PS+DC)
= 25 / (7+7+10)
= 25 / 24
= 1.04 Chaos Lightning per second

Frozen Orbs per second:
= 25 / (PS+PS+PS+DC)
= 25 / (7+7+7+10)
= 25 / 31
= 0.81 Frozen Orbs per second


Phoenix Strike and Normal Attack:

PS = 7 Frames
NA = 7 Frames

Meteors per second:
= 25 / (PS+NA)
= 25 / (7+7)
= 25 / 14
= 1.79 Meteors per second

Chaos Lightning per second:
= 25 / (PS+PS+NA)
= 25 / (7+7+7)
= 25 / 21
= 1.19 Chaos Lightning per second

Frozen Orbs per second:
= 25 / (PS+PS+PS+NA)
= 25 / (7+7+7+7)
= 25 / 28
= 0.89 Frozen Orbs per second

Doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to being able to release a lot of extra charge stacks in the long run. Beyond that; something about DC just makes it so it doesn’t play anywhere near as smoothly, I think it has to do with the animation, it just feels worse and plays worse for some reason. Normal Attack is definitely the Charge Release skill of choice.

4.4 Death Sentry:

We will use the Death Sentry’s Corpse Explosion to help increase our damage, but we don’t want to cast them to much or we will burn out all of our mana. Only drop 1 or 2 of them once there are some bodies to consume, and then just let them do their thing. Hopefully the Shadow Warrior will cast more for you as you fight, and if not, just make sure 1 is always active if there are corpses.

Death Sentry’s Corpse Explosion deals both Fire and Physical damage, so they are quite effective for both a budget setup using Reapers Toll, and a more expensive setup using Infinity.

4.5 Shadow Warrior:

We’re going to use the Shadow Warrior, instead of the Master, so that we can get her to consistently cast Death Sentry for us. If you leave Death Sentry on right click, so it’s always active, the Shadow Warrior will cast Death Sentries for you. This both allows you to focus on using Phoenix Strike, and save mana on spawning Death Sentries. She will die a fair bit, but that’s okay, she’s only around to spawn free Death Sentries for you.

4.6 Dragon Flight:

It can be used to release charges, but we will use this primarily to control our merc’s position, making sure he’s fighting who we want while providing his aura’s for us. We can also use this for some mobility to cross gaps/walls. It can also be used defensively to escape combat, but it has a huge ramp up time and isn’t very safe or reliable for this. In theory it’s good, but in practice, not the best. It can still be done in the right moments, but the skill is best to be used offensively.

4.7 Burst of Speed:

This skill is required to hit the 7 frame attack speed breakpoints for Phoenix Strike and Normal Attack while affected by Decrepify/Holy Freeze.

refer to section “3.0 Animation Breakpoints: Attacks per second” for more details

4.8 Blade Shield:

The damage output for this skill isn’t very important, but what it does provide is a ton of life leech when you accidentally get surrounded. This skill will save you from a bad Dragon Flight, and help you survive a lot more than you’d think. Definitely worth the 5 points to unlock.


4.9 Mind Blast:

This skill helps a ton, and can be key for outputting lots of damage when fighting lots of enemies. It allows you to distract monsters by converting some to your side, adding to your meat shield, and you can attack the stunned/distracted ones, allowing you to easily manage your charge stacks. This skill is based off of FCR, so stacking a bit can be nice; 20-30% FCR is ideal, preferably from Arach’s.

a “distracted” monster is just a monster fighting someone other than you; be it your merc, a converted monster, an ally, or shadow if you have one

4.10 Claw Mastery:

The attack rating boost is great, and the crit chance is nice, but we aren’t too concerned with our physical damage.

4.11 Weapon Block:

We’ll want this to help us survive better, it’s too good and just 1 point adds a ton of survivability. The blocking can be annoying when trying to stack charges, but it’s worth the defense it adds

5.0 Game play:
5.1 Quick Cast Skills:

To enable Quick Cast Skills go to:
Pause → Options → Gameplay Tab → Gameplay Section
and enable Quick Cast Skills. I recommend also enabling “Display Active Skill Bindings”, it will help when playing.

QCSs is a new setting they’ve added in D2r that allows you too: press a hotkey, it will instantly change to the skill, cast it, and change back to what the Left or Right Click was originally assigned to.

This can be extremely useful when playing this spec. It allows you to have very precise control of both Phoenix Strike and Normal Attack, helping you to release the correct element more consistently. It also lets you quickly cast mind blast, and other skills, while still leaving Death Sentry active on your Right Click.

Using this setting can be a little awkward at first, but once you get used to it it allows for much smoother gameplay. Try it out, and don’t give up on it right away.

5.2 Hotkeys:

Even if you don’t use QCS, I still recommend similar key bindings

Active Skills:
Left Click: Throw (Force Move)
Right Click: Death Sentry

Left Click Hotkeys:
Hotkey 1 = Phoenix Strike
Hotkey 2 = Normal Attack
Hotkey 3 = Dragon Flight

Right Click Hotkeys:
Hotkey 4 = Mind Blast
Hotkey 5 = Death Sentry
Hotkey 6+ = All Other Skills

I like having “throw” as my main left click skill so I can run around without accidentally stacking or releasing charges. You could also have Phoenix Strike or Normal Attack as the active skill, using throw isn’t necessary. You then use the Quick Cast Skills setting to actively cycle between Phoenix Strike and your Release skills on Left Click.

You will want Death Sentry to always be active on the right click so that your Shadow Warrior will cast them for you. I like to have mind blast be the next hotkey, after my charge and release skills, so it’s quicker to access and cast. Death Sentry can be further down the line, it’s our active right click so its hotkey order isn’t as important.

5.3 Engaging packs of enemies:
  • Mind blast the pack of monsters if needed
  • Target a stunned/distracted monster on the edge of the pack: run up to it or telekick onto it
  • Charge and release the appropriate element, preferably lightening in most situations
  • Drop 1 or 2 Death Sentries, if the Shadow hasn’t already, once there are some corpses
  • Use mind blast, or release a Frozen Orb, if starting to get attacked too much
  • Try not to get surrounded, if you get surrounded, do what you have to to get out of the pack and back on the edge of it. I often mind blast, and just run out of the centre and back to the edge. The quicker you get out and start attacking the better
  • herding packs together also helps this spec a lot, making the most out of each charge release and DS’s Corpse Explosion

The reason you want to fight stunned/distracted monsters and on the outside edge of the pack, beyond safety reasons, is getting hit/blocking attacks can greatly disrupt your flow of stacking and releasing the correct element. The more smoothly you can charge and release the better.

6.0 FAQ:
6.1 Why don't you use Treachery?

Treachery may seem like a good item for this spec at first, it has: +2 assassin skills, much need 45% IAS, Venom, but unfortunately it also has Fade and lacks resistances. We require BoS to negate decrep/holy freeze and Fade can proc at very inopportune moments. Potentially leading to deaths, and just being annoying overall. It will proc a lot because of us being melee, use it if you’d like, but be ready to recast BoS.

6.2 Why don't you use items like Facets, Griffon's, Nightwing's, and Phoenix?

The Phoenix Strike charges actually function similar to traps. The charges do not count as “you” for phoenix strike, and therefore do not benefit from things like: mana per kill, and +% Lightning Dmg, etc. Also, for whatever reason -% resistance from gear does not benefit Phoenix strike; but to clarify, things like conviction and lower resists do work with PS, only - res from gear doesn’t work. I need to do more testing


6.3 The APS calculator says I need less IAS and a lower BoS level, what gives?

You most likely forgot to apply either Decrepify or lvl 12 Holy Freeze to the attack calculator. Our goal is to maintain the 7 frame breakpoint while under the affects of slow.

6.4 Why are you stacking "Damage Reduced By x"? It seems pretty useless.

“DRBx” is actually a very undervalued stat imo. When stacked to high values it can become an extremely powerful source of dmg reduction, and in some cases make you immune to the incoming physical damage. Instead of looking at it as flat dmg reduction, you can consider it to be a varying % dmg reduction. Let me explain:

“DRBx” reduces the physical dmg you take by a flat amount, and applies before +/- % dmg reduction you can get on gear and skills, or from a curse’s de-buff that is negatively affecting to you. In some cases, monsters don’t hit super hard, but hit fast and frequent, for example:
Quill Rat - Spines = 27 → 68 dmg
Succubus - Orb Bolt = 48 → 86 dmg
Slinger Cat - Javalin = 45 → 72 dmg

We’ll use Quill rats as the example, and say we have -50 dmg reduction and 8% dmg reduction. (3 Perfect Gear, in D2 Planner)

First we will need to subtract the flat dmg from each spine, and they will deal anywhere from 27→68 dmg each, meaning if the spine dealt less than 50 dmg on hit our flat dmg reduction will reduce it 0 dmg. Any spine that deals 51→68 dmg, will first be subjected to the flat dmg reduction, and then by the % dmg reduction:

50 dmg, or less, hit:
= (hit dmg - DRBx ) * (1 +/- %dmg reduction)
= (50 - 50) * (1 - 0.08)
= 0 * 0.92
= 0

Min dmg hit:
= (51 - 50) * (1 - 0.08)
= 1 * 0.92
= 0.92

Max dmg hit:
= (68 - 50) * (1 - 0.08)
= 18 * 0.92
= 16.56

So, if a Quill Rat deals less than 50 dmg with it’s spine, you will not take any dmg from it at all. If the spine hits for 51→68 dmg, it’ll be reduced to ~1→18 dmg. This means that the Flat physical dmg reduction can be considered as 100% → 73% dmg reduction in this application.

Another really neat trait about Flat dmg reduction, as mentioned prior, is that it applies before +/- % dmg reduction, meaning things like Amplify dmg and Decrepify do not reduce its effectiveness. Lets use the same stats from the last example, but this time we’ll also cursed with amplify dmg:

50 dmg hit w/Amp Dmg:
= (50 - 50) * (1 - 0.08 + 1)
= 0 * 1.92
= 0

Min dmg hit w/Amp Dmg:
= (51 - 50) * (1 - 0.08 + 1)
= 1 * 1.92
= 1.92

68 dmg hit w/Amp Dmg:
= (68 - 50) * (1 - 0.08 + 1)
= 18 * 1.92
= 34

As you can see, because of how the dmg multipliers interact with each other, any hit that is less than your flat dmg reduction will still deal 0 dmg when cursed by amplify dmg, making you effectively immune to those hits. But any hit above your “DRBx” will still benefit from amplify dmg.


6.5 Okay, "DRBx" is useful for small hits, but what about big hits?

Let’s say we’re fighting Hell Diablo on Players 8 and he smashes us with his melee attack. On players 8 it deals: 276 → 337 physical dmg, so lets apply our flat dmg reduction from the last example to these hits, and find out it’s effective % dmg reduction:

deals: 276→337 dmg
flat dmg reduction: -50 dmg

Min dmg hit:
= 276 - 50
= 226

Effective % dmg reduction:
= ((276 / 226) - 1) * 100
= ~22% physical dmg reduction to minimum hit

Max dmg hit:
= 337 - 50
= 287

Effective % dmg reduction:
= ((337 / 287) - 1) * 100
= ~17% physical dmg reduction to maximum hit

So versus Diablo, on players 8, the stat is providing the average equivalent of 19.5% dmg reduction per hit. So yes, it is a lot weaker when buffering large hits compared to small hits, but it can still be a ton of % dmg reduction in the end.

6.6 Meteor's tooltip is misleading? How so?

The value on the skills tooltip is correct for impact, but the burn dmg is actually for when 3 fires are burning at once on an enemy. So if your skill’s tooltip says 5k burn dmg, it’s actually 1,666 burn dmg for each flame. Each flame is ‘size 2’ and each meteor releases 18 fires. Monsters in the game are considered either size 2, or 3, and depending on their size they will be affected by more or less pillars of fires, varying the amount of dmg each take per second. Size 2 can be affected by up to 3-6 flames at once, depending on where it stands in the fire. Size 3 will take damage from 5-7 flames at once, and this is just from 1 meteor.

Each of the burning fires from meteor last for 20-30 seconds, depending on PS’s skill level, and you can stack multiples of them for insane amounts of dmg. Referencing section 4.1; we can drop up to 1.79 meteors per second, when played frame perfect. Without infinity you can get up to ~5k burn dmg with meteor, and we’ll say it burns for 25 seconds:

~25 second burn duration
~1.79 meteors per second
~5k burn dmg per second on tooltip
size 2 = 3 → 6 flames, avg 4.5 flames affecting them
size 3 = 5 → 7 flames, avg 6 flames affecting them

Potential # of meteor’s stacked in 25 seconds:
= burn duration * meteors per second
= 25 * 1.79
= 44.75

~44 meteors burning per second at once, after 25 seconds of attacking and stacking

actual dmg per flame:
= tooltip / 3 flames
= 5,000 / 3
= 1,666 per flame

Each flame is dealing ~1,666 dmg per second

Flame dmg per second with respect to stacked meteors:
= dmg per flame * stacked meteors
= 1,666 * 44
= 73,304 stacked flame dmg per second

After 25 seconds of attacking we’ll have 44 meteors stacked resulting in ~73,304 dmg per flame.

Vs Size 2:
= avg flames * flame dmg per second
= 4.5 * 73,304
= 329,868

~329,868 burn dmg per second is dealt to size 2 monsters after you’ve stacked 44 meteors over 25 seconds.

Vs Size 3:
= avg flames * flame dmg per second
= 6 * 73,304
= 439,824

~439,824 burn dmg per second is dealt to a size 3 monster, after you’ve stacked 44 meteors over 25 seconds.

Odds are you aren’t going to be able to stack 44 meteors very often, if ever, things will die well before that and playing frame perfect is impossible, but in theory this is how much dmg output per second you can get from meteor, without resistance/infinity taken into consideration. With infinity, it would result in x1.85→x2 dmg in the best case scenario. The meteor is an extremely powerful component to phoenix strike and should be utilized as much as possible, when appropriate.


7.0 Conclusion:

The fact that you have 3 powerful elements at your disposal, and Death Sentry’s Corpse Explosion in the back, really frees you from needing Infinity. Overall the spec can be setup for relatively cheap with lots of room for growth. I think this is one of the most fun specs in the game, it’s powerful, has great crowd control, extremely active with the gameplay, rewards good gameplay, and it’s just fun to deal good AoE with a melee spec for once.

Once you finally do obtain some end game items, most importantly Infinity, you will be able to clear high player counts quite efficiently. It’s not as fast as meta specs like the hammerdin, javazon, or sorc, etc, but it is still capable of doing it at a decent rate.

Thanks for reading and watching my guide.

8.0 Downloading and Setting up Character for Single Player:

@admins; if this section is unacceptable can you please remove it with a warning instead of deleting and locking the post please? I’ll happily rework this section if that’s the case. Thanks for your consideration! :smiley:

If you’d like to try the spec out in offline single player or PTR, you can download the character files here:

To set it up do the following:

  1. Close D2R
  2. Download the “MartialArtSoup.d2s” file from the link
    this is the character file, the game will generate the rest of the files for you
  3. Paste the .d2s file (NOT THE FOLDER!) into your saved games folder; most likely at:
    C:\Users\Current User\Saved Games\Diablo II Resurrected
  4. Now launch D2R
  5. Go to the “Offline” tab
  6. Start the game on Hell; Cow portal is ready to open in cube

The character is set up to use the “1 Basic Gear” setup, but also has the gear sets “2 Basic Gear” and “3 Perfect Gear” available in the inventory. To equip either set, use a reset token and redo stats and burst of speed skill level accordingly. You could also switch the Merc to a Nightmare Act 2 Defensive Merc for holy freeze if using Infinity, but blessed aim will still be useful.

9.0 Other Guides:

10.0 References and Links:

Youtube video:
Martial Arts - Phoenix Sin P7 Chaos Run - YouTube

Char Build:

Attack Speed Calculator:

Detailed Game Mechanics:

Link to download single player char

Other Guides:
Martial Arts - Tiger Tail Assassin Guide
PvM - Whirlwind Blade Sin Guide

Please ask any questions and I’ll be happy to answer and discuss.



I thought about it too.
BoS:7 IAS:105 PS:5 frames
Try to keep your status low and give it back to Life.

Temporarily amplifies the Discipline skill to summon the Shadow Master.

I want to try different things.

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On building your Assassin from scratch. How do you skill it? I was running through just dumping points into fists of fire and doing decently. I was wondering how far this would go and guessing half way through nightmare/lvl 50’ish.

First of Fire can definitely carry you through a lot of the game, I bet it could go quite far into nightmare, but I’d just use Phoenix Strike once you hit 30. FoF will destroy all of normal ezpz though

I hadn’t quite written this one with start from 1 into consideration, I can definitely look into expanding/adding a section that about that

interesting I’ll have to give this a try

I’ve done a complete overhaul of the guide’s formatting, rewrote some sections, and added a video. The single player download files and d2 build planner have been updated to reflect these changes as well.


Great guide! Thanks so much!

The attack frames calc is giving me different results from the guide though. If I put in 2 greater talons, 0 ias bonuses on weapon/gear, and Phoenix Strike, I only need BoS level 7 to get to 7 frames. Could you clear this up?

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Thanks! Much appreciated.

I’ll have to emphasize this a bit more some how. What we’re trying to achieve is to maintain the 7 frame Breakpoint while Cursed or being affected by holy freeze.

A lot of the main farming areas (baal and chaos runs) have monsters that will curse you with Decrepify, and there’s always a chance an elite monster, any where in game, can spawn with Holy Freeze. When cursed or slowed, the frame rates become atrociously slow and your DPS will suffer huugggee. The spec is essentially a sorc, who’s FCR is based off of attack speed.

With the ratio’s I’ve listed, you will completely negate the attack speed slowing affects of Decrepify and Holy freeze. You’ll still run around slow, but your attack speed won’t suffer, you’ll remain at 7 frames.

Good question

Got ya, very cool. Thanks again! I’ll definitely be trying this out.

Also pretty excited to see how these sort of builds change once 2.4 comes around. Looks like we might have some significant changes coming up.


  • updated attack speed breakpoints for section 3.0
  • added a section in 3.0 explaining what breakpoints are
  • added a FAQ section:
    6.0 FAQ:
    6.1 Why don’t you use items like Griffon’s, Nightwing, and Facets?
    6.2 The APS calculator says I need less IAS and a lower BoS level, what gives?
    6.3 Why are you stacking “Damage Reduced By XX”? It seems pretty useless
    6.4 Okay, “DRBx” is useful for small hits, but what about big hits?
    6.5 Meteor’s tooltip is misleading? How so?
  • changed some sections formatting
  • spelling and grammar
  • I will update the video, and relevant sections, when patch 2.4 comes out

just wondering:
when we talking about perfect gear, I don’t think bartucs are ever the choice for perfect.

Pretty sure an eth fools claw with +2 all / +3PS will easily beat your setup. Hardly obtainable though. fortitude is technically probably also better than CoH dmg wise and gives you additional physical dmg, especially with fools claw.
Game play wise, (like always) laying down death sentries would probably speed everything up, but I guess we just don’t want to use traps here =)

laying on hands will still be massively better if you use fools claw then as well of course.

guessing there are lots of different ways to play this.
My gripe with playing a phoenix sin was always that I couldn’t even see my charges

fun fact:
with that setup you can actually throw away your off hand and play it the phoenix sin with an actual PHOENIX Shield and it does massively more dmg (physical and fire that is)

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For sure :slight_smile: The rarity is the issue here though. “Hardly obtainable” is beyond an understatement; just for the hell of it it’d, I’d love to see a claw like that just so I could be jealous of the find. I always check anya’s claws when shopping, and in the past 5 years of playing this spec I haven’t even seen a Blue Claw with anything close to +5 to Phoenix Strike in whatever combination possible, let alone Eth Fools. That weapon would be other worldly.

When I wrote the guide, I wanted the pieces to be reasonable for just about anyone to obtain. Eth Fools claw is a trophy/ultra rich mans PvP item.

Also, bartuc’s gives a lot of other nice stats like the attack rating, FHR, str and dext which equates to more Vit. Unless you get FHR on your martial art GCs, it’s gonna be really hard to make up for, and a low FHR breakpoint will leave this build stuck in Hit Recovery lock. Overall Bartuc’s has everything you need and more, it’s gonna be hella expensive to outpace.

If you’re using fools claws maybe, but I think CoH’s benefits would still outweigh it.

Chains of Honor comes with 100% demon and 200% undead dmg, which slightly negates fortitude’s bonus. Most of the areas people play (chaos, baal, etc) are demon and undead, so it’s quite active. It has +2 all skills which boosts your Phoenix Strike dmg and the chest piece is also your main slot for all resist. Which fortitude has, but not nearly as much a CoH, and CoH also has % Dmg Reduction as well.

I think CoH is much better here, Fort does nothing to help PS. I like to think of the Phoenix Sin as a Sorc based off of IAS instead of FCR. You can ignore the fact you’re even doing melee dmg, it’s all about getting + to skills gear and releasing those spells as fast as possible. The charge up time can also be viewed as a variable cooldown, depending on your APS and how well you manage your charges. Come patch 2.4 you’re technically gonna be capable of launching each different element at 1.79 APS, if played frame perfect, so this will be even more applicable.

Not wanting to use traps is part of it but it goes a little deeper than that from my experiences: >Section 4.12 Other Skills: >> **Death Sentry:** The death sentry could be added to this set up but I don’t personally think it’s worth it. You’ve barely got any skill points left to begin with, and you’re already micro managing a lot with the charges, merc position, and mind blast. Death Sentry also doesn’t scale well with players difficulty, the more players the less effective they become. You also don’t have that much spare mana overall, it’ll tax your resources a ton. Incorporate it if you’d like, but I don’t think it’s necessary, we deal good enough AoE as is.

In regards to resource management (need to add a section on it for this guide), our only sources are either some %ML from your ring or Ammy which only really recovers enough for PS because of the lack of phys dmg. Dmg to Mana from random slots like the jewels or Naj’s chest piece is actually really useful, and finally there’s potions. You’ll need to use mind blast a fair bit to build and release charges really smoothly, and I’ve tried running death sentry at the same time but I ended up having huge mana issues and was constantly chugging pots. I didn’t like it, maybe I didn’t try it long enough, but if you really want to you can totally incorporate DS. I just don’t think it’s worth it for this spec, AoE isn’t a huge issue for this set like it is all other melee specs.

okay, so i decided to roll with a buddy whos more familiar with trapsins and he brought up a lot of good points. I was wasting a ton of mana by constantly slapping down 5 sentries and sometimes even doing it before things were dead. I slowed down a bit, made sure to only cast 1-2 sentries and actually decided to mix in the Shadow Warrior just so she can cast them for me for free.

Overall, it’s an undeniable improvement. My really bad mana usage, not really thinking about how to use them efficiently, and overall inexperience with trapsins, lead me to a bunch of issues I created for myself. After some suggestions, it’s playing way better and is really useful. It even benefits from the merc for both my budget and high end setup, Decrep increasing the phys dmg of the sentry of the budget spec, and infinity increasing the fire for the “perf set”

Thanks for making me think to revisit the skill and its usage. I’ll be updating the guide to reflect it.

hence my intro :slight_smile: This is just how I like to play it; focusing on maximizing Phoenix Strike for all scenarios.

you definitely have to rely on a rhythm, and that can definitely fail. I really hope they add a Charge/Trap counter to our skills. Much like how arrows, javs and throwing potions have ammo, they should add an “ammo” counter that goes up and down as you cast/consume charges and traps. When combined with the new “display active skill bindings” setting, it’d be super easy to see.

I should probably put a note in about it only using the main hand weapon. It is nice having an offhand claw though, you can swap it with your main hand if it’s durability drops to low. Which does happen because of weapon block, and the fact you only swing the MH.

I effing hate that shield with a passion. Great on paper, often useless in practicality imo; every time fire storm procs you’re gonna be put on to cooldown and unable to charge or release skills until it’s done. You could use Dragon Talon, because it keeps kicking through the cooldown, but now you can’t manage your charges cause it’ll spend all of them with the kicks. Also, +/- elemental dmg does not work with Phoenix Strike, the - fire res on it does nothing for PS.

Cheers dude, thanks for the questions/thoughts. Gave me some ideas on sections to add.

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Keep your work! I am pretty sure new balance change will make martial art skills more viable just good as trap skills!

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thank you for the detailed guide.
I am trying with this build to kill diablo, and it is impossible (still dying a lot)
Can you check my character for improvements? I am on ptr
How can I show you my online character?

Ive been messing around on PTR a ton, we could meet up, or you could use D2planner and show me what you’re working with

My battletag is dervisis#2532 and I play on EU

You can get that in maxroll, in reality only +2 to all/ +2 to PS can drop in char specific rare items.

Great job at putting the guide together. Some notes on your perfect setups:

  1. IAS jewel on your offhand claw does nothing for the overall attack speed. You could socket your second bartucs with anything.
  2. A source of mana leech is missing.
  3. To improve your leech and hit rate consider Natalya’s Mark as primary (glove side). ITD + huge damage to demons and undead with 40ias on board make it a super duper phoenix strike candidate. You have a free socket, too.
  4. You don’t care much for traps so a jade talon with +2 to MA and +2 to Shadow offhand, lots of resistance and other good stats like tons of mana leech would complement the build well. It is optional though.
  5. By using Natalyas super fast claw you could socket shael’s instead inside of your helmet to reach your 86fhr goal (IMO, 48% are more than enough with weapon block).
  6. Under perfect, I understand 20life/5@res scs and lifer skillers.
  7. If you follow up with 4. and 6. you could wear the best +2 armors in the game: enigma and arcaine’s valor. CoH is never best in slot in any build.

many thanks! thanks for the notes and questions as well!

Yea, still gonna have to update and make a decision with this new change, I wrote this guide well before 2.4 was announced, but man was I stoked for those changes.

Either way, I find between, Blade Shield, Weapon Block, and Phoenix Strike only swinging mainhand, my weapon would sometimes come close to breaking. I’d have to swap hands mid run, but that’s me rushing and not repairing weapons between farming spots. It’s more of a convenience then a min-max scenario there, but, yea good call, I should probably relook at that.

Good catch, I must have dropped when messing around with the blue circlet and ammy not thinking. Thanks again!

actually, just last night I started tinkering around with the idea of using nats sat for a more basic setup:
I just need to update the guide to reflect that. My big desire was the ITD, my preference to use normal attack makes the stat invaluable, not to mention how more fluid building charges is.

When using infinity I have 95% hit chance versus most mobs, only 85% vs some higher level mobs, so ITD may not be quite as valuable, but it still has its place. But losing +3 to martial arts is a loss of ~1000 dmg on to all 3 different elements, which is kinda big imo. I prefer skills boosting the elemental damage over boosting physical damage, but that’s just me.

I will admit though, like I said prior, I just thought of messing around with this, so my comments are all speculation. I still want to try it out, maybe I’m undervaluing that ITD, cause that stat is godly.

Not all offhand weapon stats are shared, mana leech only work when that weapon is swung. I like bartucs cause it has more shared stats then the other pieces: skills, fhr, 20 str, 20 dext. Jade Talon could definitely help beef up resistances if required, there are many combo options available, as long as you meet the main “gear goals” it all works out

fair enough, the 86% is just so easy to reach that’s why I’ve recommended it. I haven’t experimented enough with the 5 frame FHR bp to make an opinion on it. But on speculation I’d agree, blocking is already at 5 frames and it isn’t an issue, so maybe hitting 86 is just a luxury and I should rethink my commentary on it.

only credit card warriors and duelers need the life mods :slight_smile: just kidding, but yes, technically that would be better. Maybe I should change “perfect” to “end game” or something. I just left them as is for the “progression” of gear, and so I didn’t need 12+ different GCs in the inventory for the character download.

I’m gonna disagree here, but this might be opening a bigger can of worms than I care too, but:

CoH provides almost all the things we’re missing with the way I spec’d, and swapping to accommodate teleport/enigma can be done but I feel you lose a bit to much dmg for something that can easily be worked around. You have teleport kick, and a ton of FRW.

IMO, Enigma is not necessary on every single spec like people says it is. There are more then enough farming routes that dont require it (cows, pits, chaos, frigid, pindle, etc), it definitely will speed things up, even those routes, but I’m fine with 5 min chaos runs instead of 4 minute runs. I don’t think your char needs to be able to clear absolutely everything in the game to be efficient and fun. I also personally hattte the gameplay style of only sniping elites/champs/boss only and leaving the trash mobs. I understand it might net faster results in the long run, but I think it’s a boring playstyle and different chars do it better (lookin at you item find barb).

There comes a point, in my opinion, where pushing for such perfect efficiency just takes away to much of the fun or restricts gearing to much. For another example: Skip Baal. I understand that baal’s exp is capped at 3 players, and you can get to 99 faster by skipping him, but the extra 15 seconds it takes to kill him and the loot scramble is worth the fun over efficiency imo. Not everyone will agree, but that’s my opinion on Engima/striving for perfect efficiency with every spec.

Now will all that said; you’ve made me realize that as much as I have my own opinion on Enigma, there really isn’t a reason for me not to include a 2nd “perfect” section using it and explaining how to incorporate it into the spec. So I’m gonna sit down at some point and write up a section on that. Thanks for the suggestions, and making me thinking and write this out. Putting it on paper made me realize, as much as I still stand by my opinion, it doesn’t mean I should have such a strong bias against it when writing the guide and exclude the setup.

I am curious as to why you prefer Arkaine over CoH though? The vit, flat dmg reduction, FHR, and socket are nice, it’s an awesome chest piece, but I think CoH provides better stats: demon/undead Dmg, % dmg reduction, all res, life steal, strength.

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Dragon Claw and Claw of Thunder use both claws at once. You could even use 1 point version to leech with the amount of skillers you have. With those and Cobra Strike charge up, you’ll never run out of life/mana. To leech properly, high physical dmg is required. That’s why Natalya’s Mark would improve the leech by double or more with its dmg vs demons and undead, not just ITD. Think like this, 10% leech from 100 dmg is 10HP, 10% from 300 dmg is 30HP. You could leech even more by including Laying of Hands but then you lose your+3 to MA gloves. It’s a toss up between survivability and damage. I think after a certain amount of dmg generated by PS survivability becomes more important. It’s up to you though, your guide.

On the enigma and arcaine :
enigma doesn’t just grant teleport, you save up 70str+ , 45% faster run and walk, life after kill so your life bulb fills up after killing a group with PS, dmg reduction and 5% more hp in total. Finding life after kill on other piece of gear is super hard. Resistance are plenty around from charms instead.
Arcaine offers highest amount of point dmg reduction in the game. If you socket it with a Sol rune and wear String of ears instead of verdungo ( another point I forgot, SoE is way superior to verdungo for melee) you’re going to be hit for far less. FHR takes care of the rest = best defensive armor.
CoH costs a BER :smiley: Enhanced defence is too low, +2 and life leech are nice but that’s it. Dmg to demons and undead are interesting in your specific setup I have to say because any other melee char would choose fortitude instead.

P.S.: I didn’t suggest Natalya’s set for this build. It isn’t good enough, just the weapon.
I am thinking of making a dragon talon + phoenix strike + death sentry martial arts assassin in 2.4. It should work really well in theory. DT requires just 1 point and death sentry can be left at 1.


After having done some testing, I agree Nat’s claw is amazing, but I don’t think you need it once you obtain Infinity. Infinity should put you at 90%+ AR vs mobs, and ITD doesn’t work vs bosses, so I didn’t find it as useful. The demon/undead dmg was solid, you were right about that. I found the ITD is so good early on though, and with that, going back to the set:

As an end game setup, you can definitely do better, but it’s honestly amazing for a basic set until you can get some high runes. Just for the sake of summarizing, it gives:

+3 assassin skills
+2 shadow skills
10→20 str
20→30 dext
73→99 life (level dependent)
40% FRW Boots
60→70% Fire Resists
75→95% Cold/Light Resists
105→115% Poison res and 75% Poison length reduction makes poison a non-issue
30% Dmg Reduction (slap on SoE/Verd and you’re at 40→45%)
14% Life and Mana Steal
Ignores Target Defence
200% dmg to undead/demons
0→80% FHR w/ shael in sockets
0→60% IAS w/ 15% ias jewels sockets

The set fixes so many issues the martial arts assassin has, and leaves lots of gear slots open. It’s super easy to max aps while decrepified/holy frozen, its not hard to max out resistances at all, slap on either belt to hit nearly max dmg reduction, you get life and mana steal which frees up the jewelry slots, and the +skills helps make up for what you lose from switching out other items. As you were pointing out the ITD makes the game play so smooth as well, especially with normal attack. I think the set is actually an amazing substitute until you can get Enigma/Coh, Infinity, etc. Not to mention the “cool” factor of getting the fade visuals while using BoS, pretty nifty.

Thanks again for making me really think about the gearing and explore some new ideas. Mixing in Cobra Strike was also super simple and fixes all mana issues, I’m gonna have a lot of updating to do.