Valar Guild Games Site

Diablo 2

The Complete Dark Elf

September 19, 2002

Annoying Things

Believe it or not, little annoys the Complete Dark Elf. Done right, she will be ready for just about any situation. Sure, she stills dies every once in a while, but at least it's for a good reason. :}

Lag/Playing Online

The Fourth Prime Evil has no hold over this little lady... so long as you have a decent computer that is :} If you can run D2 with little to no lag in Single Player, you'll be fine :} You'll find partners if you play online, however, and the only place to do that is in Open Bnet. Bnet itself will not cause you any lag once you manage to get to the game, as the games are not held on bnet servers but on the computer of the host. Beware, though, since when the host leaves, the game shuts down. If you are hosting, make sure you give ample warning to others playing that you must go so they have time to gather their belongings and leave before you do.

Things I enjoy

As far as Root Beer and the other food/drink items go, that hasn't changed since I wrote about Paladins :} I also still greatly prefer the Paladin to any other character. However, the Dark Elf/Assassin has made herself a close second. The claws are cool, and almost all of her moves have a use (darn blade traps).


I say go for it! :} If you know you've got a char's strengths down, take this challenge and fight at the next level :} Of course, I hate to lose chars so I wouldn't do this myself... :}

Assassins/Dark Elves I have played

Now we get to the important part: credentials. What gives me the right to say I know how to build a Dark Elf?

  • Eowyn: lvl 40 Assassin (Open, Non-guild)
  • Kalmo-Valar : Level 65-66 Assassin (Realm, Guild)
  • Narloth: lvl 27-28 Traps Assassin (Realm, Non-guild)
  • Kalmo-Valar : Lvl 72 Dark Elf (Open, Guild, ME mod)
Plus a couple of other Traps Assassins and Dark Elves that I just never got around to playing more.


I recommend a Defiance Merc. This way, defense if of lesser importance to your Dark Elf and she can focus on other important modifiers like Damage, Life, Resists, and Magic Find. Secondary choices would be Might or Prayer Mercs. These would boost your damage or give you some healing so you can keep pressing your luck in situations you may need to. Third would be a Holy-Freeze Merc. This would only slow down enemies, and then they would be almost on top of you anyway, so this is not a first choice for a Dark Elf as she has no hordes to protect her.

Best Friends

In my opinion, the best friend a Dark Elf could have is the Dunadan (ironic, since the Dunadan is my favorite char :}). Conviction greatly compliments all of her skills with its resistance drop to monsters, and any of Might/Concentration/Fanaticism would be quite nice when the Dark Elf gets in for the kill. A team of two Dunedain (one with Conviction, one with any of the dmg auras) and one Dark Elf would indeed be formidable against almost any opponent. :}

Building the Complete Dark Elf

I have always been devoted the idea that a character that can make best use of all its skill trees was in better shape than one that preferred to cut out one or more (with the only possible exception being the Druid, who can only use 2 trees at any one time). I think I've for the most part done that with my Dark Elf, and will try it sometime on CLoD (Classic Lord of Destruction) with the Assassin. This is how I did it, and by no means do I imply it's the only way. You could of course vary any part while working for the same end setup and it would probably work.


Most of this is probably obvious (or you do it differently, which is fine since I do things differently with my Paladins than most other people :}), but I'll mention it anyway.

  • Armor - With a Defiance merc, high defense on your armor becomes a secondary priority. Look for resists and when possible Magic Find as the main modifiers. Life is also a plus.
  • Helm - Life, resists, and + to Martial Arts or All Dark Elf skills is preferred. Defense on this wouldn't hurt. If you can't find + to Martial Arts, + to Shadow Disciplines is good too.
  • Boots - Faster Run/Walk isn't too terribly important with Burst of Speed, so this can afford to be an option rather than a requirement. Although it doesn't hurt to have it (especially with the slightly increased stamina drain in ME mod) don't sacrifice obviously superior mods for some Faster Run/Walk (of course, that goes for any item, don't sacrifice obviously better for something sub-par). Important to look for are resists, Magic Find, life, and some defense.
  • Gloves - Damage, Strength and Dex, some defense, and where possible (good luck!) + to Martial Arts. Resists are a plus but dmg is preferred on gloves.
  • Amulet - +2 to Shadow Disciplines beats +1 to all skills. Resists, Strength and Dex, HP/Vitality, and mana are very important. Life Steal and Dmg reduced (that's dmg taken by Dark Elf, not dmg given) are a plus.
  • Rings - Dmg reduced is good. Life (required eventually)/Mana (necessary) Steal important, as well as + to Strength and Dex and + to HP/Vitality. Resists still important here as well.
  • Weaponry - I recommend two dual claw setups. The first and most important setup is a pair of dmg claws. This is the more important feature on these claws. Other good mods include + to Martial Arts or Shadow Disciplines, life or mana steal, + to Strength and/or Dex, and Increased Attack Speed. For the Second Setup, you should have two claws that each add to Traps, either specific traps or to the entire Traps tree.
  • Extra Items - A helm of any sort that adds to Traps (as much to Traps as possible) and an amulet that does the same.

Martial Arts

This is the main skill tree for the Complete Dark Elf. She has dmg claws, and this is why :} With a good set of claws and full charges in the right skills, it is possible to do upwards of 2400 dmg in a single Dragon Claw. That may or may not sound impressive according to LoD standards, but it's quite nice from ME mod standards. I recommend you get each charge-up skill to the third charge (except Phoenix strike which can be used at any charge) for the best effect.

Charge Ups
  • Tiger Strike - 5 points. This increases the damage of your finishing move greatly, tripling it on the third charge with only one point in it. There's no reason not to invest.
  • Claws of Thunder - 5 points. This will add melee lightning damage to your finishing move, as well as shoot off different effects of lightning, from a nova to charged bolts that do good damage to anyone they hit.
  • Blades of Ice - 5 points. This gives you melee cold damage, as well as a chilling radius and cold damage radius. The radii are small, but still big enough to hit close groups.
  • Phoenix Strike - 1+ points. For many reasons I had for a time shunned this skill, but have once again decided it is pretty good. In the above skills you get your lightning, cold, and physical damage. When confronted by those whom those do little to, the first charge does meteor, giving you fire damage. The second charge will give you Chain Lightning, and the third will give you Chaos Ice Bolts, freezing anyone they hit who isn't cold immune or a boss (only chills them).

Reasoning for not getting other charge-ups:
  • Fists of Fire - I have heard and seen that there are bugs with fire damage skills of this sort in that they do only fire damage and/or do not apply life steal. Such is the case here.
  • Cobra Strike - If you get life and mana steal, there is little need (except maybe vs act bosses) to use this skill, and so I skipped it and still do fine.

Finishing Moves
  • Dragon Claw - 5 points. This skill boosts your physical dmg, and your charge-ups will only make it better. This attack requires dual-wielding claws, but only hits one target with the melee attack. Whatever is released as far as bolts or novas will affect everyone around the target that gets hit.
  • Dragon Tail - 5 points. This one is good for crowd control. It gives out damage as explosive fire damage within a certain radius, knocking back anyone within that radius. The explosive fire damage does not affect the target however, which only receives the kick damage. This has uses for large groups or for keeping a single dragon against a wall while others pummel, should you have no means of stunning.
  • Dragon Flight - 1 point. Mostly this is to get in close to the enemy from afar, or to teleport to a monster on the outer ring of a group surrounding you so that you can attack there or escape.

Reason for not using Dragon Talon:
I decided I didn't need it. You of course are welcome to give it a try. It does up to 3 consecutive kicks (one each) to adjacent monsters (ones close to each other) from what I hear.

Shadow Disciplines

There are several important skills you will be using from this tree.

  • Claw Mastery - Max this one. You will be using a lot of melee, so the more damage you can do, the better. It may help your early questing/leveling to invest 10 points here at the start.
  • Burst of Speed - 1-5. No more. Your skill boosters on your items will give you plenty more points for this. You get a boost to run/walk and attack, so attack speed with your claws will be little if any problem.
  • Weapon Block - 1. You can invest more if you want, but I let my skill boosters on my items provide more here.
  • Mind Blast - 1. Again, you can invest more here, but the damage doesn't get very high. The main purpose of this skill is crowd control. It stuns and has a chance to convert, giving you fewer creatures to fight if you find yourself overwhelmed.
  • Shadow Master - Why Shadow Master and not Shadow Warrior? Because Shadow Master is just plain better. From what I hear, both use skills at half its level +1. For example, a level 20 Shadow Master can cast a level 11 (20/2, then +1=11) Lightning Sentry. It works that way for all skills she uses. So why Master? She can use any and all skills except herself and Shadow Warrior. She is also a better-built melee-er. With the resist bonus and high life she gets she's great at taking dmg.

Other skills to consider:
While I didn't use Fade or Venom, they could be quite useful. Fade can give you a resist boost should you really need it (such as when you're using your traps setup), and Venom can deal good poison damage over 2 seconds should you run into physical immunes. Keep in mind that both of these will deactivate each other and Burst of Speed if you activate either of them.

Reasons for not using Psychic Hammer and Cloak of Shadows:
Psychic Hammer is ok, but not all that useful later on. Cloak of Shadows will be cast by your Shadow Master anyway, and it's just not an interesting enough skill to invest several points in.


Let's face it. There are some enemies you just plain won't be able to melee with. There are others you will need some extra damage on. That is why we invest here. For those enemies you can't melee, that is why you have two traps claws on your other weapons tab, and why you have a helm and amulet that adds to traps. This is the support tree for you, your Merc, and your Shadow Master. Thanks to V&K, the Dark Elf has one Cold Trap: Wake of Ice. The other Traps do Lightning or Fire damage.

  • Wake of Ice - 1-5+. This is the most useful trap in the tree. It replaces Wake of Inferno, doing the same amount of damage, only in cold now. It slows the enemies and keeps you out of danger when needs be, or makes it easier for you to melee.
  • Lightning Sentry - 1-5. This is the best lightning trap, but it's more to deal with cold immunes than anything else. + to skills will boost this all it should need boosted.
  • Death Sentry - 1. This is strictly for the Corpse Explosion the trap offers. The lightning damage is not that great and it only shoots lightning/explodes corpses 5 times, so no point in investing heavily in this trap. Let your skills mods do the real work.

Another skill to consider:
If you feel you need a fire trap too, Fire Blast does the best damage of the fire traps. You can invest a few points in it if you want, but I haven't found it too necessary.

Reasons for not using other skills:
The other elemental traps either have short durations or they don't do much damage. The Blade traps only do physical damage, so there's no real point to invest in them. Blade Shield might be good to put a few points in, as it'll do damage to enemies who come too close, and since you'll be meleeing most of the time you'll be fairly close to a lot of monsters.


I put this here first for one important reason: don't invest in it. All the mana you'll need will come from your items and from mana steal.

Strength, Dexterity, and Vitality

These are grouped together because I kept them fairly close together in base numbers. I recommend by level 75 having a base of 150 points in each of these. I did this by adding 5 points a level alternating between Strength and Dex till they were about 40-50 points, then switching to Vitality, putting all points until it reached 50. After that, I got Strength and Dex to 100, then brought Vitality to 100. At that point I alternated between all 3, adding 5 points to Vitality one level, 5 to Strength the next, 5 to Dex the next, and so on. I'm level 71 and approaching my target base.


Final suggestions? Keep your charge-ups hot-keyed on F1-F4, and your Finishing moves on F5-F8... After that you've got 8 more keys to assign the important Shadow Disciplines and Traps to. Again I say, don't waste skill points on skills you know you'll never use.

This brings us to the end of my paper. If there is something I didn't cover, it's probably because I didn't think it needed covering :} As always, feel free to question what I've written here and follow what works best with you. I think I've elaborated enough, but if I haven't you can e-mail me and ask me about the part that concerns you. If all else fails, it worked for me :}

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