Diablo 2 Hybrid Trap/Kick Assassin Guide Walkthrough, Hints and Tips for PC Games.

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 Diablo 2 Hybrid Trap/Kick Assassin Guide

Diablo 2 Hybrid Trap/Kick Assassin Guide

-Diablo 2 Hybrid Trap/Kick Assassin Guide (1.13)
-V3.00 (9/6/10)
-By Sean D'Hoostelaere

This is property of Sean D'Hoostelaere. This may be not be
reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not
be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance
written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any
public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright.
In plain English, this means that it is against the law for you to copy this
guide. If you want to print it out, that's fine, but I do not permit its use
anywhere on the web or for it to be used for anything profitable.

/                 \
|Table of Contents|

I.      What this guide is for (Why go hybrid?). . . . . . . . . . .(I.)
II.     Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (II.)
    a. Martial Art Skills. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(IIa.)
    b. Shadow Disciplines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(IIb.)
    c. Traps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(IIc.)

III.    Skill allocation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(III.)
IV.     Stat distribution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (IV.)
V.      Equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(V.)
    a. Helmet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Va.)
    b. Armor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vb.)
    c. Gloves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vc.)
    d. Belt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vd.)
    e. Boots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Ve.)
    f. Weapon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vf.)
      1. Switch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(Vf1.)
    g. Shield. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vg.)
    h. Jewelery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vh.)
    j. Charms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Vj.)

VI.     Mercenary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (VI.)
VII.	How to Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(VII.)
VIII.   Version History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (VIII.)
IX.     Credits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (IX.)

This table of contents is very much a quicksearch option. Just press Ctrl+F
to bring up the search bar, and type in any of the above.

I. WHAT THIS GUIDE IS FOR (Why go Hybrid?)
The Assassin has a powerful assortment of skills that cover a very wide range
of abilities. Using traps, the assassin can deliver a high amount of both
lightning and fire damage. Her Martial Arts allow her to deal high physical
damage along with fire, ice or lightning damage. And then lastly with the shadow
discipline Venom, she also has access to poison damage as well. This means that
the assassin is one of the few classes to have powerful access to nearly all of
the damage types that exist in Diablo 2. This makes an assassin very capable of
fighting the hordes of Diablo, because there are virtually no enemies that will
resist her attacks. 

To that end, this hybrid build utilizes the strength of the assassin to create
a build that can capably solo the entire game, normal through hell. Using a
mixture of Dragon Talon, Venom and Death Sentry, the Hybrid Kick/Trap Assassin
utilizes physical, poison, lightning and fire damage to tackle the many enemies
she will face.

This guide comes with two basic variations. The first variation is one that
works best with less powerful equipment, and focuses on building a powerful
death sentry and lightning sentry to augment the weaker dragon talon attacks.
The second variation, which requires pretty good equipment, involves a weaker
set of lightning/death sentry in exchange for a more powerful dragon talon.
Which build you use is up to you; I will do my best to provide solid advice to
build either one.

There are several skills that the assassin can utilize to her advantage. 
I'll touch on all of the skills where you're placing a point. If you want actual
distribution, look further down- this is merely a discussion of what those
skills are.

Utilizing her hands and feet, the assassin can deliver crippling blows to
her enemies. Oddly, the martial arts skills will be almost completely ignored.

~~Dragon Talon~~
 Required level: 1
 Effect: Unleash feet of fury upon your foe

 The first skill at your disposal, and  it is by far the best one in the 
 assassin's arsenal. Using her feet, the assassin will kick the enemy several
 times. This is the bread and butter of your build, and is the skill that you
 will primarily build around. Go down to the equipment section to get more
 information on the pros and cons of this skill, and what weapon mods you are
 going to want with this skill. For now, we need to cover how many skills you
 want into dragon talon.
 Dtalon starts with one kick per attack at level 1, and gains a new kick every
 6th level (2 kicks @ 6, 3 @ 12, 4 @ 18, etc). Now, my personal preference is to
 max this skill- the higher the skill level, the higher your attack rating bonus
 and the more effectively you can hit enemies. However, many people shoot for
 level 18 or 24, and not higher. The reason for this is that with 5-6 kicks,
 you tend to kick for a long time, and once you've unleashed the attack, the
 assassin will kick until the attack is over. This can sometimes leave you in
 an awkward spot where an enemy is either dead or has moved away and you're
 left kicking into space. 
 It's up to you whether you want more AR or less kicks; just remember to factor
 it into your equipment collection, because you'll be wearing enough +skills
 that you may need a lot fewer points than the 18 or 24 that you're looking to

~~Dragon Claw~~
 Required level: 6
 Effect: Use both claws to mercilessly rake your opponent
 A fairly powerful skill, I'm told it is INSANELY fast when your attack
 speed is maxed- 4 frames per attack (to give comparison, it's normally 7 at
 But dragon talon gives 6 attacks to dragon claw's 1, and on this build, more 
 hits comes first.
 One point as a prereq and then forget it.

~~Dragon Tail~~
 Required level: 18
 Effect: Send a devastating kick at your enemy

 Another powerful skill that only attacks once, therefore making it subpar to
 the dragon talon.
 One point and forget.

~~Dragon Flight~~
 Required level: 24
 Effect: Teleport to your foe and wipe them out with a finishing kick
 This skill is mixed with people- some love it, some do not. I personally have
 never really enjoyed using dragon wing because I could never get the hang of
 it. You have to see an enemy and use dragon flight on them in order to 
 teleport, so it does not have the free-wheeling, teleport-when-you-want 
 feature. Still, it moves you very quickly from one side of the battle to the 
 other and can get you out of a few hairy situations. It's also a way to bring
 your shadow and mercenary to the fray, which can sometimes be a real pain 
 in the butt.

These skills range all across the board- the assassin taps into her innate 
shadow abilities to give herself all kinds of benefits.

~~Claw Mastery~~
 Required level: 1
 Effect: Increases claw damage and attack rating

 Claw mastery- excellent skill. But... you aren't attacking with your claws.
 It's the core prerequisite, so stick a point in while you move up the tree.

~~Psychic Hammer~~
 Required level: 1
 Effect: Send a hammer (of the MIND!) at the enemy to knock them back.

 I've never actually used this skill... its damage NEVER gets very high, no
 matter how much you might want it to, and while it does magical damage on
 top of physical damage... 60 damage is still only 60 damage, and traps are
 still 100 time better.
 You want the skills it unlocks, but it's completely forgettable.

~~Burst of Speed~~
 Required level: 6
 Effect: Pumps your characters walking speed and attack speed.

 I love Burst of Speed. While the increased attack speed is obviously the
 biggest benefit for the skill, what I love most is the faster run/walk. With
 that said, it's a great skill early on, but falls second fiddle to fade later
 on. As we'll discuss later, you will not need the IAS provided by burst of
 speed, which means that the only reason to use this is to run faster. Useful
 in limited situations, but since you can't use both Burst of Speed and Fade
 simultaneously, you'll want fade instead.

~~Claw Block~~
 Required level: 12
 Effect: Use both claws to block attacks

 This skill is essential for any claw assassin. You'll have trap claws on switch
 to lay down traps, and so when you're using those claws, claw block comes into
 play. Claw Block is not related to dexterity, so don't worry about that at all.

~~Cloak of Shadows~~
 Required level: 12
 Effect: Decrease enemy defense while increasing yours

 This is a very useful skill for when you run into mobs. This skill first blinds
 every enemy in the vicinity. Second, it will decrease enemy defense and Third,
 it increases yours. This will both make your dragon talon more effective and
 will also protect you while you stick your neck out to kill with it. Plus
 it will knock out ranged attackers from shooting at you (Gloams come to mind).
 While you won't be dumping points here, you will definitely be using it- don't
 forget about it!

 Required level: 18
 Effect: Raises all of your resists

 With a large bonus to fire, ice, lightning and poison resistance, this skill
 is a lifesaver. Once you have all of the necessary attack speed so that Burst
 of Speed is no longer necessary, you will always want this skill active. This
 is especially important in Hell, where resists are drastically lowered and
 can alter whether or not you are able to survive.

~~Shadow Warrior~~
 Required level: 18
 Effect: Send a model of yourself to attack the enemy; it will use ONLY your
         equipped abilities

 The Shadow Warrior essentially becomes a second hireling. Equally dense and
 equally powerful. The Shadow Warrior will use whatever two skills you have
 equipped in your character. Typically that is Dragon Talon and another skill.
 Shadow Master is another popular option for assassins, but I prefer to skip
 out on it. The reason for this is that by altering the skills you have equipped
 you can control your shadow warrior. For example, if I'm in the middle of the
 crowd using dragon talon, I can set Mind Blast or Cloak of Shadows on the other
 button and my shadow will fire them off into the crowd for me. By comparison,
 the shadow master will use any skills you have, regardless of whether or not
 you would like them to!

~~Mind Blast~~
 Required level: 24
 Effect: Damage, stun, and possibly convert your enemies.

 Great skill that every assassin should have. It stuns your opponents, and
 it has a chance of converting them to your side temporarily. When you're trying
 to get that first corpse, it adds to the chaos and allows you to jump in and
 take down your guy.

 Required level: 30 
 Effect: Add poison damage to your attacks
 Venom provides our first elemental damage by adding poison damage to Dragon
 Talon. This skill is deceptively useful- you may look at the damage and write
 it off, especially when other poison attacks from the necromancer and amazon
 do tens of thousands. However, venom should not be written off at all, because
 that small poison damage is inflicted almost instantly, and with dragon talon
 striking multiple times, it hits multiple times. In other words, while your
 kicks are doing 600-1000 physical damage, you're also adding an additional
 500-600 poison damage. It's a pretty significant difference!
 However, it's one of those skills that you will either max or put a single
 point into, depending on whether you plan to focus on martial arts or traps.

The assassin lays traps for her enemies to inflict all kinds of damage to them.

~~Fire Blast~~
 Required level: 1
 Effect: Toss a firebomb onto your enemies

 This skill is actually quite powerful, easily rivaling fire bolt early on.
 In the end, it's not very good, and it doesn't fit in with your build.
 However, it provides a very unique synergy to death sentry: For every 3rd level
 that fire blast has, death sentry gets another shot before having to be laid
 down again. For that reason, it may be worth putting a few points into fire
 blast just to add to the duration of death sentry. We'll look into that later.

~~Shock Web~~
 Required level: 6
 Effect: Toss a web of electricity on groups of enemies

 Another fairly powerful spell early on, and like fire blast, it doesn't end
 up very good. 
 On a trapper, you'd max this, but for the hybrid, just put one point.

~~Charged Bolt Sentry~~
 Required level: 12
 Effect: A trap that sends charged bolts at the enemy

 This is the first trap that will serve a purpose to you. While not as good
 as lightning or death sentry, this skill is not without its uses, as it can
 utterly flood the enemy with CBs.
 Whether or not you put more than a point into this depends on your build.

~~Lightning Sentry~~
 Required level: 24
 Effect: Lay a trap to send lightning at your enemies

 One of your two primary traps, this one's a keeper. High lightning damage,
 and you lay the trap and forget it- while you're kicking enemies, it fires
 10 shots at thousands per shot.
 Max this skill- it synergizes with your best skill.

~~Death Sentry~~
 Required level: 30
 Effect: Lay a trap that casts lightning AND corpse explosion

 Here it is: the trap of traps. This is the skill that your build is built upon.
 While not as powerful as lightning sentry in pure damage, it casts a corpse 
 explosion that can decimate entire crowds in no time flat.
 This is the other half to dragon talon, so get very friendly with it and learn
 it well- it will make all the difference late in the game.


All right, now we must discuss skill allocation. As I mentioned earlier, there
are two ways to build this assassin. 
The first is built around using Dragon Talon to back up your very powerful
death and lightning sentries. Skill allocation and equipment selection will 
therefore necessarily augment the +traps more than it will the increased kick
The second is built around Dragon Talon, with Death Sentry backing up your
kicker. Skill allocation and equipment selection will focus primarily on making
your kicks as deadly as possible and while the traps will be powerful, they will
be nothing compared with the traps of the former setup.

Regardless of which one you choose, two skills must be maxed no matter what:
Dragon Talon and Death Sentry. Both setups will have 20 points in each.
You also need one point into all of the fundamental skills- shadow warrior,
fade, dragon flight... Comes to a total of 16 points. In total, that's 56 
points, which can be attained at level 45 (assuming you have all 12 +skill
points from quests already)

However, from here you have a crossroads: are you going the traps route, or are
you going the kicker's route? Which route you chooses will have a drastic effect
on which skills you choose.

For a hybrid more focused on utilizing powerful traps, you need to max out
Lightning Sentry and Charged Bolt sentry. On the other hand, a hybrid focused
on powerful kicks will want to max Venom and Lightning Sentry.
In either case, those skills will take 38 more points. That means that by level
84, you'll be all set with your build.

One last thing I would recommend (and you can do this early or late- whatever
works for you) is 2-5 points into fire blast. Death Sentry synergizes with
fire blast and gets an extra shot at level 3,6,9, etc (based on hard points,
not +skills). 2 points will get it to level 3 and 5 points will get it to level
6, giving Death Sentry 6-7 shots (Depending on what you go for).

NOW, when to distribute?
I would pump the skills in this order:

Pump and max Dtalon asap, breaking off from it only to get points into the
various shadow disciplines (burst of speed, claw block, fade, etc). Once
dragon talon is maxed, go ahead and get one point into every skill that you
will be using. By this point you should be at or around level 30, and so you
can then max death sentry.

At this point you now have a strong kick and a strong trap. From here, max
your "second" skill- in the case of kickers, max venom, and trappers max
lightning sentry. I'd put 2 points into fire blast at this point. And then
finally, max your last skill (either lightning sentry or CB sentry). At this
point you're level 86, and odds are you're not getting to a much higher level
than that anyway!

Four stats to consider: Strength, Vitality, Energy and Dexterity.

\   /\   /
/   \/   \
While is used to determine damage, it doesn't add much. However, it DOES affect
what equipment you can wear.

The strength you need is based on how good your equipment is. The highest 
strength that you'll ever need is 156. This will cover both the Stormshield
Monarch and the Spirit Monarch; depending on your build, you'll use one or the
other! You might need 208 if you decide to wear some myrmidon greaves, although
as we'll discuss later, the best boots only require 156 strength.

\   / \   /
/   \ /   \
Dexterity does two things. First, it provides you with the ability to equip
everything you need to equip; as an assassin, you'll need dexterity for what
you're wearing. Secondly, dexterity affects attack, defense, and block rating.
Your goal with dexterity is to have enough points in dexterity to reach "Max
Block"; that is, your shield will block 75% of the time. 

Now, max block is calculated with the following formula:
Total Blocking = (Blocking * (Dexterity - 15)) / (Character Level * 2)

SO, if you want 75% block with a stormshield at level 99, here's the equation:
75= 72 (x-15)/188
75= (72x-1080)/188
72x= 15180
X= 211

So, at level 99, you'll need 211 dexterity for maxed block.
Since you're probably not ever going to get to level 99, let's go with
a more realistic goal- level 80. At level 80, 195 dexterity gets 75 block.
SO, get to whatever dex you need to get maxed block at the given level.

REMEMBER- your equipment will provide lots of dex, so take that into account
when deciding how many points to spend.

\   /\   /
/   \/   \
The most important of the stats- place every extra point into vitality. You'll
need the life, I guarantee it.

\  /\  /   
/  \/  \
NO POINTS IN ENERGY. You might feel the pinch early on, but by the end it will
not be necessary anymore.

Ah, equipment. This is complicated... First, there are a LOT of different
pieces of equipment. Second, there are two different types of assassins here!
Each one has different needs- a kicking assassin needs to focus on equipment to
help augment the abilities important to her.

First of all, here are the mods that work with kicks:
 - Life/Mana Leech
 - Elemental/Magical Damage (however, it will not show up on the screen)
 - Chance to cast X on striking
 - Crushing Blow
 - Open Wounds
 - Prevent Monster Heal
 - Ignore Target Defense
 - Hit Blinds/Freezes/Slows Target
 - Hit Causes Monster to Flee

However, the following things DO NOT work with kicks:
 - +Physical damage (That means NO GRIEF)
 - Deadly Strike
 - Critical strike

Naturally, we will want to focus on those mods that work with the kicks.

Early on, you won't use traps at all because you won't have death sentry yet.
So, get equipment that focuses on the melee aspect of your build. Find the 
highest Str. requirement boots that you can find, because with high Str. 
requirement comes high damage, and the more damage, the better. You probably 
won't have crushing blow yet, so damage is important.
Look for life leech and mana leech as well. You can quickly run low on mana
and health if you're not careful, but leech quickly amends that.

Now, once you get death sentry, you'll need +skills. Specifically, +traps. 
Life leech % is always important for when you're kicking down for a corpse, and
mana leech will help you stay on top of the rather high mana cost of traps€.
Crushing blow lowers the enemy's HP by a set percentage- from 1/4 to 1/32.
It quickly decimates your enemies and allows the kicker to take them down in
no time flat. If you can get it, then get it!

Now, the equipment listed below is all of the different equipment that you may
want to consider. We'll cover low-end gear as well as high-end gear. Because
of the sheer amount of selection, my personal recommendation about this stuff
is to just read what I've got to say about each piece of equipment, and to
decide for yourself which one you want to use.

In Diablo 2, there is a mod on equipment that you've seen, known as "Increased
Attack Speed". This is a fairly straightforward idea, yes? The more you have,
the faster you attack. However, IAS doesn't work on a straight level, where
each 1% increases your speed by 1%. The reason for this is that Diablo 2 is a
game that operates in "frames" of motion. Due to the nature of it being a
computer game, it renders the animation in a series of frames: a total of 25
per second, to be exact. Attacks happen within that same realm of frames, and
as a consequence, an attack cannot increase its speed by 1%, because an attack
is either 7 frames or 8; there is no 7.25 frames.
So with IAS, what we look for are called "Breakpoints"- that is, at what % of
IAS does an attack speed up by a frame? And more specifically for us, how much
IAS do you need to attack as fast as possible?

To do this, we need to look at two things: First, we need the innate speed of
whatever weapon we are holding. Each weapon has an innate speed; anywhere from
+30 to -60. The lower the number, the faster the weapon- +30 speed is VERY slow,
but -60 is incredibly fast. Generally speaking, I will be recommending equipment
that is at least -10, but no more than -30 (which is where phase blades fall)

Now, the second thing to look at is how much "Increased Attack Speed" do you
have on your character? Check all of your equipment (gloves & weapon are the
typical places to find IAS) and add up all of the IAS that you have.

Using these two numbers, consult this table:

Weapon Attack Speed      IAS for 7-frame kick     IAS for 8-frame kick
        -30                      46                       18
        -25                      56                       24
        -20                      68                       32
        -15                      80                       40
        -10                      95                       50

Note that seven frames is the fastest kick speed you can get. Now, you also need
IAS for laying down traps, but fortunately that number is lower than this one,
so if you have this one, you'll be all set.

As you may have noticed, people using -10 weapons need a heck of a lot of IAS.
Consequently, it's often hard for a player to get up to max speed. However, it's
not impossible. Ways to do it include:
 - IAS on the weapon (most weapons will include IAS automatically)
 - 20% IAS from crafted gloves
 - Shael runes added to the weapon for a 20% IAS boost
 - Fanaticism (we'll look at beast later, which increases IAS)
 - 15% IAS jewels can be added to any gear for a boost of 15%

The reality may indeed be that you simply cannot reach 95% with the equipment
you are using. With that being the case, your breakpoint is one frame more 
(which is 1/25 of a second; not a huge deal). Use the last column in the table
to figure out your IAS in those cases- as you can see, a -10 weapon needs just
about the same IAS for 8-frame kicks as a -30 weapon needs for 7-frame kicks,
so for practical purposes, plan on having 50% IAS on your equipment in some way.

Now, one VERY important thing to keep in mind: this is not factoring Burst of
Speed into the equation. The reason for this is that I personally do not like
using Burst of Speed because the resists and damage reduction of fade are far
more useful; far too often you don't have enough resists, and fade does a great
job offsetting that problem. 
HOWEVER, if you want to use BoS, the breakpoint for 7-frame kicks even with a
-10 speed weapon is only 44, which means that with that 50% IAS, you can max
your speed with whatever weapon you use. If you find you've got enough resists
without fade, keep this in mind as you set up your equipment.

Hit Recovery is the speed at which you recover when an enemy hits you. When they
do, you're temporarily stunned. Normally it's not a significant issue, but if
you're being hit by multiple enemies at once, you can get into what is known as
"stunlock"- that is, you're stunned constantly and so you are unable to attack
or to get away. If you get stunlocked, odds are high that you will die unless
you're very crafty about getting away.

Faster Hit Recovery is therefore the ability to speed up how fast your assassin
recovers when she's struck. Innately, recovery takes 9 frames, but with
enough FHR, you can get up to a 3-frame recovery. However, that takes 200(!!)
FHR, and therefore is not a prudent investment. More realistic is 48 FHR, which
will take you to a 5-frame recovery. If you haven't hit 48 FHR with your
equipment, you can choose to either shoot for 27 FHR, which gives 6-frame
recovery, or you can alter your armor to reach 48. The ways to do this include:
 - Shael on armor or a helmet for 20% FHR
 - Jewels can provide 7% FHR
 - Small charms can add 5% FHR apiece
 - A grand charm of balance adds 12% (four of these will hit 48%, then)

**                                  VA. HELMET                                **

/Harlequin Crest (unique shako)
\+2 To All Skills
/+ 1-148 To Life (Based On Character Level)
\+ 1-148 To Mana (Based On Character Level)
/Damage Reduced By 10%
\50% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
/+2 To All Attributes

For a trap-oriented hybrid, this helm is really the smartest option because of
the +2 all skills. The life and mana bonus are a welcome addition as well, and
the damage reduction rounds out some nifty mods, overall.
However, for a kicker the mods (while nice) are kind of useless, so I do not
recommend it for you.

\Guillaume's Face (set winged helm)
/Required Level: 34
\Required Strength: 115
/+120% Enhanced Defense
\+30% Faster Hit Recovery
/15% Deadly Strike
\35% Chance of Crushing Blow
/+15 To Strength

There's only one reason to use Guillaume's Face- 35% Crushing Blow. The rest of
the mods are pretty unimportant (although +15 strength is always nice). For most
kickers, this will be the helmet of choice. However, if you're using a weapon
that provides some Crushing Blow of its own, you probably won't need the bonus
from this helmet; that being the case, you may decide to choose a different

\Crown of Ages (unique corona)
/Required Level: 82
\Required Strength: 174
/+50% Enhanced Defense
\+100-150 Defense
/+1 To All Skills
\Damage Reduced By 10-15%
/All Resistances +20-30
\+30% Faster Hit Recovery
/Socketed (1-2)

Often considered the golden standard for melee classes. +resists, a +skill, 
damage reduction, FHR... Plus up to 2 sockets, in which you can throw pretty
much anything you like- additional resists, FHR, damage reduction, etc. 
There are a few reasons I don't like this helm. First, there's no Crushing Blow.
Second, the requirements (both level and strength) are rather high; in some
ways, prohibitively so. Lastly, the helm just costs too damned much. If you have
that kind of income to spend, grabbing a CoA makes sense- you'll probably be
using it with a Last Wish, or something similar. I personally never had the
wealth necessary to get a CoA.

\Rare Assassin Circlet
/Various Stats

Circlets can have virtually any mods that you can think of; this makes good ones
both very valuable and very difficult to obtain. A good one would have +2 to
assassin skills, +20 to all resists, and 2 sockets. Any other mods past that
(+strength/dex, life leech, faster run/walk) is nice, but the crucial part
is the +2 assassin skills, the resists and ESPECIALLY the open sockets, where
you can place anything you need (like with CoA).
Rare circlets are hard to come by, but if you can get one, you can build a
perfect helm for either a trap hybrid or a kick hybrid, one that has everything
you could need... except crushing blow, of course.

\Dream (3 Socket Helms) Io+Jah+Pul
/10% Chance To Cast Level 15 Confuse When Struck
\Level 15 Holy Shock Aura When Equipped
/+20-30% Faster Hit Recovery (varies)
\+30% Enhanced Defense
/+150-220 Defense
\+10 To Vitality
/Increase Maximum Life 5%
\+0.625-61.875 To Mana (Based On Character Level)
/All Resistances +5-20
\12-25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

An intriguing helmet because it provides a holy shock aura. While level 15
doesn't provide a whole lot of damage, take this into consideration: it deals
lightning damage for every kick that you land on the opponent. As a result,
what looks like a fairly small amount of lightning damage can actually add up
to quite a lot.
However, while the other mods are nice, there are better helms out there. It's
also VERY expensive, especially when compared with the price of the other helms
we're using.

\Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest (set death mask)
/Required Level: 66
\Required Strength: 55
/10% Life Stolen Per Hit
\10% Mana Stolen Per Hit
/All Resistances +15
\+45 Defense
/+30 To Mana
\+60 To Life

A solid all-around mask, with life/mana leech, +resists and +life/mana. I feel
like this helmet gets overlooked far too easily and far too often. If you're
a kicking hybrid and you don't need crushing blow, this helm is an inexpensive
helm that can provide a bunch of good mods for you. A bit hokey looking, though-
not much you can do about that!

\Kira's Guardian (unique tiara)
/Required Level: 77
\Durability: 25
/+50-120 Defense
\+20% Faster Hit Recovery
/Cannot Be Frozen
\All Resistances +50-70

Not many kickers will be using Kira's Guardian, but if you're planning to take
on Mephisto in Chaos Tristram, it may be a necessity to survive his Conviction
aura. That's about it.

\Lore (2 Socket Helms) Ort+Sol
/+1 To All Skill Levels
\+10 To Energy
/+2 To Mana After Each Kill
\Lightning Resist +30%
/Damage Reduced By 7
\+2 To Light Radius

Trap hybrids can use this helm for a quick +1 skills at virtually no cost. The
other mods aren't worth much, but at level ~30, a +1 skills is worth enough on
its own.

**                                  VB. ARMOR                                 **

\Chains of Honor (4 Socket Body 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 To Strength
/Replenish Life +7
\All Resistances +65
/Damage Reduced By 8%
\25% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items

+2 skills stick out straight away; +65 resists and +8% damage reduction pop
out next. 8% life stolen per hit, +20 strength... This is a really excellent
piece of armor for both kick and trap hybrids.
There's really only one drawback to CoH- no defense. Kickers will have to rely
very strongly on a good block rate and on a strong ability to leech life,
because with this armor you're unlikely to ever get enough defense to protect
you from many enemy attacks. However, it's a minor complaint- this is my armor
of choice in most situations.

\Fortitude (4 Socket Body Armor) El+Sol+Dol+Lo
/20% Chance To Cast Level 15 Chilling Armor when Struck
\+25% Faster Cast Rate
/+300% Enhanced Damage
\+200% Enhanced Defense
/+15 Defense
\+1-148.5 To Life (Based on Character Level)
/Replenish Life +7
\+5% To Maximum Lightning Resist
/All Resistances +25-30
\Damage Reduced By 7
/12% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
\+1 To Light Radius 

Fortitude is an excellent substitution for Chains of Honor and gives it a strong
run for best kicker hybrid armor. The defense is very high, and there's a chance
to cast chilling armor, which only further boosts your defense. You also get
a bunch of resists, along with a great life bonus.
However, one of fortitude's most popular assets is the +300% enhanced damage.
This +300% affects your kick damage, which increase the damage quite a bit.
About the only time I would recommend not using fortitude on a kicker is if
you're going after Chaos Tristram; you won't need the ED% very much (CB is
where most of the damage comes from), and the +35 resists over fortitude are
very important when you go up against Mephisto.

\Duress (3 Socket Body Armor) Shael+Um+Thul
/+40% Faster Hit Recovery
\+10-20% Enhanced Damage
/Adds 37-133 Cold Damage 2 sec. Duration
\15% Chance of Crushing Blow
/33% Chance of Open Wounds
\+150-200% Enhanced Defense
/-20% Slower Stamina Drain
\Cold Resist +45%
/Lightning Resist +15%
\Fire Resist +15%
/Poison Resist +15%

This armor is a kicker's dream armor, offensively; the 15% CB and 33% OW both
work great with kicks, and there's an ever-so-slight increased damage for your
kicks. There's also an effective +15 to all resists, along with a very
respectable enhanced defense AND 40% FHR.
You can get these mods elsewhere, and so duress can become obsolete with the
right gear. Still, the price is right- Um is the only moderately pricey rune in
this armor, and so for what you're investing into this armor, you get a great

\Treachery (3 Socket Body Armor) Shael+Thul+Lem
/5% Chance To Cast Level 15 Fade When Struck
\25% Chance To Cast level 15 Venom On Striking
/+2 To Assassin Skills
\+45% Increased Attack Speed
/+20% Faster Hit Recovery
\Cold Resist +30%
/50% Extra Gold From Monsters

Swap Um for Lem and you get another great piece of assassin armor. What makes
this armor stand out is the chance to cast fade and venom, although +2 skills
and 45% IAS is nothing to overlook!
With the chance to cast fade and venom, a trap hybrid can easily get a strong
venom and fade with only one point invested. Very useful way to get the benefit
of all of the assassin's skills while saving points to invest elsewhere.
I wouldn't use this if I were a kicker, though- there's no defense on this
armor, and while there's a chance to cast fade, you should be using fade anyway,
so the resists offered by the fade isn't going to amount to too much. However,
as with Duress, the biggest sell for this armor is that for the price you pay,
you get some really great armor. Highly recommended for a mid-level assassin.

\Enigma (3 Socket Body Armor) Jah+Ith+Ber
/+2 To All Skills
\+45% Faster Run/Walk
/+1 To Teleport
\+750-775 Defense
/+0-74 To Strength (Based On Character Level)
\Increase Maximum Life 5%
/Damage Reduced By 8%
\+14 Life After Each Kill
/15% Damage Taken Goes To Mana
\+1-99% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items (Based On Character Level)

To some, Enigma is "the only armor you could ever want or need." The +1 teleport
changes the entire build, allowing the assassin to move very quickly around the
map. There's also a 45% faster run/walk, which also makes you noticeably faster.
Other than that, there's +2 skills, a very large strength boost, and other mods.
However, while the teleport is nice and is essential if you were to ever go PVP,
this build is not meant for PvP, and this build really does not benefit from
this armor very much.

\Smoke (2 Socket Body Armor) Nef+Lum
/+75% Enhanced Defense
\+280 Defense Vs. Missile
/All Resistances +50
\20% Faster Hit Recovery
/Level 6 Weaken (18 Charges)
\+10 To Energy
/-1 To Light Radius

Anyone who has read my guides before knows that I'm a big fan of smoke. It's
easy to make and provides a defense and resistance bonus. Not much else to say
about it, though. It's not perfect, but there aren't many armors at a similar
level of access that can compete with it.

\Rattlecage (unique gothic plate)
/+200 Defense
\25% Chance of Crushing Blow
/Hit Causes Monster To Flee 40%
\+45 To Attack Rating

Not much to this armor except that it provides Crushing Blow. Useless past the
early game, but 25% CB is nice for a low-level assassin.

**                                 VC. GLOVES                                 **

\Dracul's Grasp (unique vampirebone gloves)
/Required Level: 76
\Required Strength: 50
/+90-120% Enhanced Defense 
\+10-15 To Strength 
/+5-10 Life After Each Kill 
\25% Chance of Open Wounds
/7-10% Life Stolen Per Hit 
\5% Chance To Cast Level 10 Life Tap On Striking

These are the best gloves for a kicker. The 5% chance of casting life tap makes
the kicker virtually invincible. The chance may seem low, but remember that your
kick hits up to six times, which means that you'd only need to use 3 dragon
talons to activate it, on average. There's also the 7-10% life leech, which only
further helps the kicks to keep you alive. Other than that, the open wounds work
with kicks for another source of draining damage, and the strength bonus helps
equip all of your gear.

\Blood Gloves
/Magic Heavy/Sharksin/Vampirebone Gloves+Nef Rune+Perfect Ruby+ Any Jewel
\Various Stats

This recipe creates a pair of gloves with 5-10% crushing blow, 1-3% life leech, 
10-20 life, and a bunch of mods typically found on rare gloves.
If you can find a set of "perfect" blood gloves, they could feasibly prove
more useful than Dracul's Grasp. These gloves would have 20% Increased Attack
Speed, +2 to Martial Arts Skills, another 5% life stolen per hit (8% total),
and either +15 strength or +15 dexterity. 

When looking at blood gloves vs. Dracul's Grasp, you have to consider what you
need. If you're lacking IAS, blood gloves are the best way to get it. However,
that's really the only reason to use them. Sure, +2 to martial arts is nice
and will boost your dragon talon, but the life tap is really so much more
useful for survivability. As for the rest of the stats, dracul's has up to 10%
life leech and 15 strength, so blood gloves are nothing more than a knock off
brand. There's also the 5-10% CB, but there's a LOT of other ways to get CB.
Of course, one reason to use blood gloves over dracul's grasp may simply be that
you don't have dracul's grasp. With that being the case, blood gloves are a very
nice alternative.

\Lava Gout (unique battle gauntlets)
/Required Level: 42
\Required Strength: 88
/+150-200% Enhanced Defense
\2% Chance To Cast Level 10 Enchant On Striking
/Half Freeze Duration
\Adds 13-46 Fire Damage
/+20% Increased Attack Speed
\Fire Resist +24%

Lava Gout gloves are a set of "gimmick" gloves, for lack of a better word. With
no life leech, they're not likely to be anywhere near as useful as the other
gloves we've talked about. However, they do have a 20% IAS, and there's also
the chance to cast enchant. Enchant will add ~30 fire damage per kick if you
use it (not helpful at all), but it will also add 101% to your attack rating-
VERY helpful.
If you're in need of IAS but not life leech, these are a fun set of gloves for
you to try.

\Sigon's Gage (set gauntlets)
/Required Level: 6
\Required Strength: 60
/+20 to Attack Rating
\+10 to Strength
/30% Increased Attack Speed (2 Items)

These gloves are only useful when paired with the boots because of the massive
30% IAS and the 10% life leech that is gained with two items. If you don't have
at least one other piece of sigon's armor (and again, I recommend Sigon's Sabot)
these gloves are worthless. However, with the boots, they make a really sweet
set of low level gloves.

\Death's Hand (set leather gloves)
/Required Level: 6
\Poison Length Reduced by 75%
/Poison Resist 50%
\30% Increased Attack Speed (2 Items)

Another set of gloves that's useless without another set piece- in this case,
you should pick up Death's Guard, which has some good low-level mods; with the
two together you get 8% life leech.
Sigons is better because it provides more life leech and because it's just some
better armor. However, the level requirement on this set is very low, and so if
you can get your hands on it early, it gives you a solid start to things.

**                                   VD. BELT                                 **
\Blood Belt
/Magic Belt/Mesh Belt/Mithril Coil+Tal Rune+Perfect Ruby+Any Jewel
\Various Stats
As we discussed at the beginning of the equipment section, Faster Hit Recovery
is a good stat to invest some time into, and one of the best ways to do that is
with a solid belt. To that end, I highly recommend a good crafted belt. They
innately come with 5-10% OW, 1-3% life leech and 10-20 life, and in addition can
have up to 30 strength, another 60 life (80 in total), and most importantly,
24% FHR. 
For a kicker, this is the best belt; the uniques are nice, but they don't really

\Arachnid's Mesh (unique spiderweb sash)
/Required Level: 80
\Required Strength: 50
/+90-120% Enhanced Defense
\Slows Target By 10%
/+1 To All Skills
\+20% Faster Cast Rate
/Increases Maximum Mana 5%
\Level 3 Venom (11 Charges)

The +1 skills makes this the ideal belt for a trap hybrid, as does the increased
mana. However, that's all it has; the FCR is totally unnecessary for a non-PVP
assassin, and the slow target mod doesn't matter much at all.

\Verdungo's Hearty Cord (unique mithril coil)
/Required Level: 63
\Required Strength: 106
/+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%

There's a reason this is the most desired melee belt. FHR, huge life bonus,
damage reduction... this belt has it all for characters who intend to launch
themselves into the fray.
Having said that, I feel there are better belts out there for you; Fade provides
damage reduction already, and with stormshield you'll hit the maximum DR% (50%)
without much trouble. Without the DR needed, you're better served crafting a
belt for the increased FHR.

\Thundergod's Vigor (unique war belt)
/Required Level: 47
\Required Strength: 110
/+160-200% Enhanced Defense
\Adds 1-50 Lightning Damage
/5% Chance To Cast Level 7 Fist Of The Heavens When Struck
\+20 Lightning Absorb
/10% To Maximum Lightning Resist
\+20 To Strength
/+20 To Vitality
\+3 To Lightning Fury (Amazon Only)
/+3 To Lightning Strike (Amazon Only)

This belt is very popular for one purpose: fighting gloams. You know, those
enemies that are invisible until they appear right in front of you and cast
lightning, instantly draining your health by absurd amounts. They're one of the
most frustrating enemies in D2, and oftentimes the most dangerous. With this
belt, your resist can hit a total of 85%, while the +20 lightning absorb helps
to heal you every time you get hit with a lightning attack. Between the two,
the threat of a gloam can be SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. Outside of gloams, this
belt isn't all that helpful, so if you decide to take this belt, I recommend
leaving it in your stash at camp and saving it for those special occasions where
you plan to hunt for gloams.

\String of Ears (unique demonhide sash)
/Required Level: 29
\Required Strength: 20
/+150-180% Enhanced Defense
\+15 Defense
/6-8% Life Stolen Per Hit
\Damage Reduced By 10-15%
/Magic Damage Reduced 10-15

As with Verdungo's, the damage reduction is the biggest selling point of this
belt, although the life leech is really good too. The difference is that you
can equip this belt at level 29, which is long before you'll have any other
really good gear. If you can get your hands on this belt that early, I highly
recommend wearing it.

\Trang-Oul's Girth (set troll belt)
/Required Level: 62
\Required Strength: 91
/+75-100 Defense
\Requirements -40%
/Cannot Be Frozen
\Replenish Life +5
/+25-50 To Mana
\+30 Maximum Stamina
/+66 To Life

Given the level requirement on this belt, it's outclassed by a lot of other
belts. However, the "Cannot be Frozen" is never to be underestimated, nor
is the life/mana bonus.

\Credendum (set mithril coil)
/Required Level: 65
\Required Strength: 106
/+50 Defense
\All Resistances +15
/+10 To Dexterity
\+10 To Strength

Useful for the +15 to all resistances; not much else.

\Death's Guard (set sash)
/Required Level: 6
\Cannot be Frozen
/+20 Defense
\All Resistances +15 (2 Items)

Again, wear this with the death gloves to get some GREAT low-level mods. With
this belt's +15 resist all and cannot be frozen, you'll benefit hugely from
using it.

**                                  VE. BOOTS                                 **
\Shadow Dancer (unique myrmidon greaves)
/Required Level: 71
\Required Strength: 167
/+70-100% Enhanced Defense
\+1-2 To Shadow Disciplines (Assassin Only)
/+30% Faster Run/Walk
\+30% Faster Hit Recovery
/+15-25 To Dexterity
\Requirements -20%

These boots provide some great all-around bonuses for any assassin. The +30%
FHR immediately sticks out to me, but there's also the fact that it provides
a great dexterity boost, and the +1-2 shadow disciplines just rounds them out
ever so nicely. A trap hybrid should definitely go for these, and a kicker who
already has plenty of crushing blow (At least 30%, I'd say) should do so as

\Gore Rider (unique war boots)
/Required Level: 47
\Required Strength: 94
/+160-200% Enhanced Defense
\30% Faster Run/Walk
/10% Chance Of Open Wounds
\15% Chance Of Crushing Blow
/15% Deadly Strike
\Requirements -25%
/+20 Maximum Stamina

These are great boots for any kick hybrid assassin, for several reasons. 
First, the crushing blow and open wounds are necessary for your kicks.
Second, war boots can be "upped" by throwing them into the Cube with a
Lem rune, Ko rune and Perfect Diamond, which transforms them into Myrmidon
Greaves, the highest kick damage boots in D2. Third, because of the -25%
requirements, upped gore riders only take 156 strength, compared with the 208
of regular myrmidon greaves; that means no extra strength over a monarch shield.
The crushing blow and open wounds become superfluous with other gear often
providing those bonuses; however, someone with gore riders can use gear that
isn't as dependent on having CB, which in the case of weapons can open up some
other interesting options.

NOTE: the "up" recipe doesn't work on non-ladder, so if you can't find a pair 
on non-ladder, you may want to consider the other options.

\Goblin Toe (unique light plated boots)
/Required Level: 22
\Required Strength: 50
/+50-60% Enhanced Defense
\25% Chance of a Crushing Blow
/-1 To Light Radius
\Damage Reduced By 1
/Magic Damage Reduced By 1
\+15 Defense

With 25% crushing blow, these make great early boots, if you can get your hands
on them. However, I wouldn't recommend them later on, nor would I recommend
Upping them in the cube (you can do that- go from normal to exceptional to elite
boots, which would make them mirrored boots instead). The reason for this is
that it's only got crushing blow, where gore riders have CB, OW, and (petty as
this sounds), faster run/walk. It also won't provide as much kick damage because
mirrored boots are not as strong as myrmidon greaves. However, they make a great
early choice, and shouldn't be overlooked.

\Sigon's Sabot (set greaves)
/Required Level: 6
\Required Strength: 70
/20% Faster Run/Walk
\Cold Resist +40%
/+50 To Attack Rating (2 Items)

When worn with Sigon's gloves, you get 10% life leech and 30% IAS on the gloves.
The boots themselves aren't particularly remarkable, although greaves give the
best damage of all normal boots, which will at least make your kicks do a fair
amount of damage through normal mode.

**                                 VF. WEAPON                                 **
The weapon section is, more than all of the others, really open for your own
interpretation. I'll do my best to list the reasons for it, but to leave it up
to you to decide what weapon you want. For my part, my assassin rocks Azurewrath
over anything else, but I'm probably in a minority there.
The weapons will be listed in a general order, but only in the sense of end-game
versus early-game.

Because kicks are not affected by weapon damage in any way, many traditional
weapons will be ignored. Grief, BotD, Doom, Death, etc- all are totally useless
to an assassin. Instead, we focus on weapons that do things other than damage.

When making runewords, always use the fastest weapon that you can.
The speed of your attacks is based on how fast your weapon is more than anything
else. As a result, always use the following:
- Flails for "mace" class weapons (-10 speed)
- Military Picks for "axe" class weapons (-10 speed)
- Phase Blades for "sword" class weapons (-30 speed)
- Blade Talons for "claw" class weapons (-20 speed)

\Beast (5 socket axes/scepters/hammers) Ber+Tir+Um+Mal+Lum
/Level 9 Fanaticism Aura When Equipped
\+40% Increased Attack Speed
/+240-270% Enhanced Damage
\20% Chance of Crushing Blow
/25% Chance of Open Wounds
\+3 To Werebear
/+3 To Lycanthropy
\Prevent Monster Heal
/+25-40 To Strength
\+10 To Energy
/+2 To Mana After Each Kill
\Level 13 Summon Grizzly (5 Charges)

Beast provides both Crushing blow and Open Wounds, which are a great thing for
any assassin. It also provides an excellent fanaticism aura. With it equipped,
you'll get a 28% increase to your attack speed on top of the 40% provided by
the weapon, which puts you well above the amount needed for 8-frame kicks and
close to the amount needed for the 7-frame. It also provides a 75% increase
to your attack rating and a 169% increase to your damage.

\Heart of the Oak (4 Socket Staves/Maces) Ko+Vex+Pul+Thul
/+3 To All Skills
\+40% Faster Cast Rate
/+75% Damage To Demons
\+100 To Attack Rating Against Demons
/Adds 3-14 Cold Damage, 3 sec. Duration (Normal)
\7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
/+10 To Dexterity
\Replenish Life +20
/Increase Maximum Mana 15%
\All Resistances +30-40
/Level 4 Oak Sage (25 Charges)
\Level 14 Raven (60 Charges)

Heart of the Oak is a solid trap hybrid weapon because of the +3 skills. There's
also a plethora of other nice things on this weapon, including +30-40 to all
resists, a mana boost and some extra dexterity. While this is an unusual pick
for an assassin, if you're not planning to do a lot of kicking, HotO can do very
good things for an assassin.

\Last Wish (6 Socket Swords/Hammers/Axes) Jah+Mal+Jah+Sur+Jah+Ber
/6% Chance To Cast Level 11 Fade When Struck
\10% Chance To Cast Level 18 Life Tap On Striking
/20% Chance To Cast Level 20 Charged Bolt On Attack
\Level 17 Might Aura When Equipped
/+330-375% Enhanced Damage
\Ignore Target's Defense
/60-70% Chance of Crushing Blow
\Prevent Monster Heal
/Hit Blinds Target
\+0.5-49.5% Chance of Getting Magic Items (Based on Character Level) 

If you need crushing blow, look no further than last wish; the CB is monstrous.
Add onto it the 10% chance of casting life tap and you won't need dracul's
grasp. PLUS you get a level 17 might aura, which provides a 200% damage boost
to both you and to everyone else in your party. The fade is an OK thing-
you may have enough +skills that it's actually a downgrade from your own fade,
but that's a small problem given all of the other nice mods this weapon has.
Definitely put this into a phase blade- it provides no IAS of its own, so you
will need to use the fastest weapon possible (and you'll need the 20% IAS from
crafted gloves)

\Azurewrath (unique phase blade)
/Required Level: 85
\Required Strength: 25
/Required Dexterity: 136
\+230-270% Enhanced Damage
/+30% Increased Attack Speed
\Adds 250-500 Magic Damage
/Adds 250-500 Cold Damage, 10 sec. Duration
\+1 To All Skills
/+5-10 To All Attributes 
\Level 10-13 Sanctuary Aura When Equipped
/+3 To Light Radius

Azurewrath provides you with a lot of different mods.Huge magic and cold damage 
makes your kicks a whopping 4-element attack with the kicks and the venom added.
Cold does sometimes destroy corpses, but it's not 100% of the time. You also
get a sanctuary aura, which allows you to damage undead enemies. It's bugged
so that you even hit through physical immunities; useful for the every-pesky
ghosts that are innately immune to physical attacks.
You get +1 to your skills, which is nice, and there's also a 30% IAS; with
a shael rune, you hit the necessary 46 IAS to get the 7-frame kick.

\Stormlash (unique scourge)
/Required Level: 82
\Required Strength: 125
/Required Dexterity: 77
\+240-300% Enhanced Damage
/+50% Damage To Undead
\Adds 1-473 Lightning Damage
/+30% Increased Attack Speed
\+33% Chance of Crushing Blow
/20% Chance To Cast Level 18 Tornado On Striking
\15% Chance To Cast Level 10 Static Field On Striking
/+3-9 Lightning Absorb
\Attacker Takes Lightning Damage of 30

While Azurewrath added magic and cold damage, this weapon adds lightning damage
instead. It too has 30% attack speed, as well as providing an excellent source
of Crushing Blow. Most interesting, though, is the 15% chance of casting static
field, which is essentially another form of crushing blow and provides another
way to quickly whittle down the health of an enemy.

\Fleshripper (unique fanged knife)
/Required Level: 68
\Required Strength: 42
/Required Dexterity: 86
\+200-300% Enhanced Damage
/-50% Target Defense
\25% Chance of Crushing Blow
/33% Deadly Strike
\50% Chance of Open Wounds
/Prevent Monster Heal
\Slows Target By 20%

The chance of both open wounds and crushing blow is excellent, as is the defense
reduction and slowing of the target. I understand this is a popular weapon for
PvP assassins, but I've never used it myself.

\Crescent Moon (3 Socket Axes/Swords/Polearms) Shael+Um+Tir
/10% Chance To Cast Level 17 Chain Lightning On Striking
\7% Chance To Cast Level 13 Static Field On Striking
/+20% Increased Attack Speed
\+180-220% Enhanced Damage 
/Ignore Target's Defense
\-35% To Enemy Lightning Resistance
/25% Chance of Open Wounds
\+9-11 Magic Absorb
/+2 To Mana After Each Kill
\Level 18 Summon Spirit Wolf (30 Charges)

It sort of feels like a cheaper version of Stormlash. It has IAS, open wounds,
and a chance to cast static field. While not as good as Stormlash, it's easier
to obtain (most likely) and you can put it into a phase blade to make getting
a 7-frame attack easier to obtain.

\Law Bringer (3 Socket Swords/Hammers/Scepters) Amn+Lem+Ko
/20% Chance To Cast Level 15 Decrepify On Striking
\Level 16-18 Sanctuary Aura When Equipped
/-50% Target Defense
\Adds 150-210 Fire Damage
/Adds 130-180 Cold Damage
\7% Life Stolen Per Hit
/Slain Monsters Rest In Peace
\+200-250 Defense Vs. Missile
/+10 To Dexterity
\75% Extra Gold From Monsters

The biggest selling point of Lawbringer is that it provides a 20% chance of
decrepify, which makes enemies much easier to hit with your kicks. However,
it also gives a life leech %, along with some fire/cold damage to add to your
attacks. It also provides sanctuary, which as was mentioned earlier can help
a lot with physical immunes.
On the flip side, RIP means that you won't get many corpses for Death Sentry.

\Spirit (4 Socket Swords) Tal+Thul+Ort+Amn
/+2 To All Skills
\+25-35% Faster Cast Rate
/+55% Faster Hit Recovery
\Adds 1-50 Lightning Damage
/Adds 3-14 Cold Damage 3 Second Duration (Normal)
\+75 Poison Damage Over 5 Seconds
/7% Life Stolen Per Hit
\+250 Defense Vs. Missile
/+22 To Vitality
\+89-112 To Mana
/+3-8 Magic Absorb

Sort of like a low-level HotO, with a bunch of great mods, including +2 to all
skills. Grab it if you're a trapper hybrid; it's even got 7% life leech, as
well as some phenomenal FHR.

\Strength (2 Socket Melee Weapons) Amn+Tir
/35% Enhanced Damage
\25% Chance Of Crushing Blow
/7% Life Stolen Per Hit
\+2 To Mana After Each Kill
/+20 To Strength
\+10 To Vitality

A very excellent choice for a kicker, with life leech, crushing blow and a big
strength bonus. Amn+Tir is also really easy to obtain which makes it something
that any assassin can get her hands on without much effort.
Put this into a claw so that you can dual wield; with Malice (below), you'll
have 100% open wounds, 25% crushing blow, a bunch of bonuses to your chance
to hit, and 7% life leech; that can't be beat, early on.

\Malice (3 Socket Melee Weapons) Ith+El+Eth
/+33% Enhanced Damage
\+9 To Maximum Damage
/100% Chance Of Open Wounds
\-25% Target Defense
/-100 To Monster Defense Per Hit
\Prevent Monster Heal
/+50 To Attack Rating
\Drain Life -5 

A great low-level weapon for any class, including for the assassin. The
100% open wounds is a great way to take down enemies, and the -defense will
help you land hits, which is both crucial and sometimes difficult early on.
Put this in a claw, and then make strength as well in a claw to create a kickass
kicking assassin.

\Black (3 Socket Clubs/Hammers/Maces) Thul+Io+Nef
/+120% Enhanced Damage
\40% Chance Of Crushing Blow
/+200 To Attack Rating
\Adds 3-14 Cold Damage - Cold Duration 3 Seconds
/+10 To Vitality
\15% Increased Attack Speed
\Magic Damage Reduced By 2
/Level 4 Corpse Explosion (12 Charges) 

The quintessential kicker's weapon, with 40% crushing blow... I actually hate
this weapon. I know I said I'd keep bias out, but this weapon is really not
as good as strength. The knockback is very frustrating, and causes enemies to
move away before you can get all of your kicks off. And while 40% CB is nice,
the 25% from strength is enough for the early game, where enemies don't have
absurd amounts of health anyway. You also can't dual wield it in a claw.
I really only list it for those kickers who were planning to use it and just
needed the recipe to make it. Go with strength.

\Cunning Claws
/+3 to traps

You can pick these up from Anya, and when you're laying down traps, you might
as well maximize the damage they do. With 2 of these on your traps get a +6
bonus, more than any other weapon combo. Not good for anything else, but VERY
good at that.

**                                 VF1. SWITCH                                **
You have two sets of weapons, right? The first set, we covered here above. Next,
we have to discuss the "switch" set. The job of a switch set is to either 
provide you with weapon/shield to use when you're switching up your attack style
(kick to trap, in this case), or to buff your character by providing bonuses
that your normal weapon/shield do not provide.
There are two things that you might want to look at for your switch- the first
is Call to Arms, which will give you a large life/mana boost, and the second
is the Demon Limb tyrant club, which provides an enchant charge to increase your
damage and attack rating.

\Call To Arms (5 Socket Weapons) Amn+Ral+Mal+Ist+Ohm
/+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 

Battle Orders is the most important thing on this weapon- everything else is
rather negligible. Equip a spirit shield with it to add to your +skills and you
should have at LEAST level 10 battle orders, if not level 15. That's a lot of
life and mana!

\Demon Limb (unique tyrant club)
/Required Level: 63
\Required Strength: 133
/+180-230% Enhanced Damage
\+50% Damage To Undead
/+123% Damage To Demons
\Adds 222-333 Fire Damage
/7-13% Life Stolen Per Hit
\Fire Resist +15-20%
/Level 23 Enchant (20 Charges)
\Repairs 1 Durability in 20 Seconds

This buff will give you a level 23 enchant to add fire damage and attack rating
to your attacks. The fire damage is negligable; what we're after here is the
AR boost. You'll get a 218% increase to your attack rating, which lasts for 672
seconds! That's a full eleven minutes- less time than any chaos or baal run
takes. Cast once and forget.

**                                 VG. SHIELD                                 **
\Stormshield (unique monarch)
/Required Level: 73
\Required Strength: 156
/+ 3-371 Defense (Based On Character Level)
\+25% Increased Chance Of Blocking
/+35% Faster Block Rate
\Damage Reduced By 35%
/Cold Resist +60%
\Lightning Resist +25%
/+30 To Strength

This shield possesses one of the best chances to block of any shield in D2,
and that alone makes it a great choice for any character, allowing you to
minimize the dex needed for max block. However, on top of that it also has
a solid set of resistances and a 35% damage reduction, which when coupled with
fade should get you to the maximum damage resistance of 50%. While a trap
hybrid may prefer the benefits of spirit, a kicker should always use this one.

\Spirit (4 Socket Shields) Tal+Thul+Ort+Amn
/+2 To All Skills
\+25-35% Faster Cast Rate
/+55% Faster Hit Recovery
\+250 Defense Vs. Missile
/+22 To Vitality
\+89-112 To Mana
/Cold Resist +35%
\Lightning Resist +35%
/Poison Resist +35%
\+3-8 Magic Absorb
/Attacker Takes Damage of 14 

You'll have to get a monarch shield for this one, but it's worth it- +2 skills,
huge mana/life bonus, enough FHR to hit 48 without any other equipment and solid
all-around resists. However, it provides no increased block rate, which means
max block is nearly impossible with this shield. This is the ideal shield for
a trap hybrid, but for a kicker looking to actually get in there and fight,
you'll miss Stormshield.

\Sanctuary (3 Socket Shields) Ko+Ko+Mal 	
/+20% Faster Hit Recovery
\+20% Faster Block Rate
/+20% Increased Chance of Blocking
\+130-160% Enhanced Defense
/+250 Defense vs. Missile
\+20 To Dexterity
/All Resistances +50-70
\Magic Damage Reduced By 7
/Level 12 Slow Missiles (60 Charges)

Put into the right shield, this can be almost as good as Stormshield for a
kicker. If you were to put it into a Hyperion shield, you'd get almost the same
block %, and while stormshield gives 35% damage reduction (which is really nice)
this shield gives a LOT of resist-all. It also gives you a dexterity bonus,
which frankly is more useful than the strength bonus Stormshield gives.

\Rhyme (2 Socket Shields) Shael+Eth 
/20% Increased Chance of Blocking
\40% Faster Block Rate
/All Resistances +25
\Regenerate Mana 15%
/Cannot Be Frozen
\50% Extra Gold From Monsters
/25% Better Chance Of Getting Magic Items

The classic low-level shield, with a high block rate and lots of resists. If
you're using malice and strength, this isn't worth anything at all, but for
those of you using Black, grab a rhyme shield.

**                               VH. JEWELRY                                  **
\Raven Frost (unique ring)
/Required Level: 45
\+150-250 To Attack Rating
/Adds 15-45 Cold Damage, 4 sec. Duration
\Cannot Be Frozen
/+15-20 To Dexterity
\+40 To Mana
/Cold Absorb 20%

There are several reasons to use raven frost. First, cannot be frozen is a mod
that you MUST have on your gear somewhere, so might as well make it here. Next,
It has up to a 250-point bonus to your attack rating, which when added into your
base AR for dragon talon can equal a few thousand points overall. Third, there's
a nice dexterity bonus, which is always welcome for both block rate and more
AR. And finally, the cold absorb will make you nigh impervious to cold damage.
About the only reason not to use it is because you're planning to use BK for
the +skills, because this is an awesome ring.

\Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
/+1 To All Skill Levels
\+ 0-49 To Life (Based On Character Level)
/3-5% Life Stolen Per Hit 
\+50 Maximum Stamina

One of the two +skill rings in the game, this one tends to be more useful than
Stone of Jordan for an assassin because of the life bonus and the life leech.
Trap hybrids will benefit from the dual use of the ring. Equipping this and
then a raven frost isn't a terrible idea- they compliment each other well,
giving strong bonuses to both your kicks and to your traps.

\Manald Heal (unique ring)
/Required Level: 15
\4-7% Mana Stolen Per Hit
/Replenish Life +5-8
\Regenerate Mana 20%
/+20 To Life

This ring serves one purpose: an anti mana burn ring. When an enemy hits you
with mana burn, you're unable to even kick, much less lay traps. This is a
dangerous situation to be in. However, with a manald equipped, you get an innate
mana regeneration as well as a solid base mana leech.
It's for a very specific purpose, but at the same time it's a very important
one for a melee class, because if you're mobbed and get hit with mana burn,
you'll be dead very quickly if you can't regenerate it in any way. If you don't
use this, make sure to find another way to regenerate your mana.

\Rare Ring
/Various Stats

Again we come to the rares. Rings can have all kinds of stuff- life/mana leech,
resists, strength/dexterity, even an attack rating bonus (though not on the
level of raven frost). Rares aren't all that helpful, though- unless you need
resists, the unique rings are specialized in what they do, while a rare ring
is kind of just a mediocre substitute.


\Mara's Kaleidoscope
/+2 To All Skill Levels
\All Resistances +20-30
/+5 To All Attributes

Rare amulets tend to be the way for most people, but I prefer just picking
up mara's kaleidoscope for reliable stats. +2 skills and +20 resists is a solid
thing for any class, and while a rare amulet can be better, it's often a pain to
find such an amulet.

\Rare Amulet
/Various Stats

+2 assassin skills and +2 traps on a single amulet is pretty awesome for a trap
hybrid, while +2 assassin skills and +2 shadow disciplines is best for kickers.
Add +20 resist all and some other life/mana mods and you've got an amulet worthy
of kings. As I said, they're hard to find, but if you can get one, kudos!

\Shadow Amulet
/+3 to shadow disciplines

This is a great starting point for amulets; the +skills will help out with
fade, burst of speed, shadow warrior and venom, which are all very important
skills for an assassin. Go with this if you're a kick hybrid.

\Cunning Amulet
/+3 to traps

On the flip side, trap hybrids can use the most bonus to their traps that they
can get, and +3 traps is a very simple, yet effective way to do that.

**                                 VJ. CHARMS                                 **
Obviously you need an Annihilus and a Hellfire Torch with +3 assassin skills;
do what you can for those.

From there, grab a few grand charms. Trap hybrids should get an Entrapping
Grand Charm of either Vita (36-45 life) or Balance (12% FHR) depending on your
needs. For kick hybrids, make it a Mentalist's Grand Charm of Vita or Balance.
For every grand charm you have, find a Shimmering Small Charm as well. Suffix
is up to you, but odds are you could use 3-5% resist all, and you can get up
to 20% from four of them, which takes up virtually no space in your inventory.

Note that these charms are often very hard to find and VERY expensive. A grand
charm of vita in particular can cost handfuls of HRs, so it may be easier to
just look for an entrapping grand charm with no other mods.


So for the curious, let's look at the "expensive" setup. I'll base mine around 
a kicking hybrid and trying to maximize everything I can, all right?

Helm: Crown of Ages w/ 2 Ber
Armor: "Fortitude" archon plate
Belt: Verdungo's Hearty Cord
Gloves: Dracul's Grasp
Boots: Shadow Dancers
Weapon: "Last Wish" Phase Blade
Shield: "Sanctuary" Hyperion
Ring 1: Bul-Kathos' Wedding Band
Ring 2: Raven Frost
Amulet: Mara's Kaleidiscope
Hellfire Torch
4 Mentalist's Grand Charm of Vita
4 Shimmering Small Charm of Vita

Total +skills- 7
Total +shadow disciplines- 6 (13 total) 
Total resists- 190 (90% with hell penalty factored)
Total Damage Reduction- 41%
IAS- 0% (however, with the high resists and damage reduction, you use BoS)
FHR- 60% (hits 5-frame recovery)
Crushing Blow- 70%
Open Wounds- 25%

Plus TONS of health, two different sources of lifetap, and more. 
Now, you'll notice that with this setup, you're not actually using many of
the things I suggest- no Guillaimes, no crafted belt, no azurewrath, no fade...
However, you cannot argue with the results: the resists are insane, you get
more than enough +skills to make every skill awesome. You also get a fantastic
amount of CB from last wish, and FHR and IAS are more than enough to get you
to the high frames.
And that's the point- while there are some weapons/armors that are awesome,
you can mix and match to fit your weaknesses. Are you lacking CB, but can't
afford Last Wish? Guillaimes or Gore Rider can provide that. Need FHR? A blood
belt can give you that. Play around with stuff and see what works for you!
For what it's worth, that setup above assumes that the gear is perfect, and
believe me- perfection is HARD to achieve. A perfect CoA is worth more than I
even thought possible, and each grand charm of vita is worth as much as the CoA.

Your mercenary is there to take some hits for you and back up your shadow 
warrior, which I guarantee is not going to be your incredible knight in 
shining armor, much as you might want her to be.

Your merc will be, without a question, from Act 2. The auras are invaluable for
you and your merc.

Which one, you might ask- after all, there are LOTS of options. For you, the
best option is definitely Normal Defensive. You've got attack rating and you've
got plenty of damage, but you don't have much defense to speak of- you're going
to be a fairly up-front melee class and 2000 defense just doesn't cut it.

Now, some may ask- "Why not Holy Freeze? It freezes the opponent and slows them
Holy freeze chills the opponent, which means that when they die, you get no 
corpse. No corpse means no death sentry, and your whole build goes kaput.


SO, about equipment: 

Your merc needs to be able to stay alive- if he's your meat shield, you can't
have him dying off all the time, especially at the cost of 50,000 per life.

So, give him some stuff that will help him stay alive, most specifically, %life
leech. Defense is important too, but he'll have defiance, so a little defense
goes a long way. Life leech will be his core ability for staying alive.

The ideal equipment set up will give him tons of defense, good damage, and
a fairly powerful amount of life leech.

\The Reaper's Toll (unique thresher)
/Required Level: 75
\Required Strength: 114
/Required Dexterity: 89
\+190-240% Enhanced Damage
/Ignore Target's Defense
\Adds 4-44 Cold Damage, Duration 0-2 Sec.
/11-15% Life Stolen Per Hit
\33% Deadly Strike
/33% Chance To Cast Level 1 Decrepify On Striking
\Requirements -25%

This is the most popular weapon for a mercenary, and with good reason! The
11-15% life leech does a lot to keep him alive, while deadly strike will
increase his damage output significantly. However, the biggest pull for this
weapon is the chance ot cast decrepify. It's like lawbringer, but without the
corpses being destroyed. Use this on your merc if you can get it- it's second
to none for you.

\Infinity (4 Socket Polearms) Ber+Mal+Ber+Ist
/50% Chance To Cast Level 20 Chain Lightning When You Kill An Enemy
\Level 12 Conviction Aura When Equipped
/+35% Faster Run/Walk
\+255-325% Enhanced Damage
/-(45-55)% To Enemy Lightning Resistance
\40% Chance of Crushing Blow
/Prevent Monster Heal
\0.5-49.5 To Vitality (Based on Character Level)
/30% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items
\Level 21 Cyclone Armor (30 Charges)

This has become an increasingly popular weapon for mercenaries of all
characters, but it's especially useful for a trap/kick hybrid. Conviction
reduces both resistances and defense of an enemy, which means that 1) your
lightning and death sentry will do more damage, and 2) your kicks are more
likely to hit. Beyond that, the damage on infinity is awesome as is the chance
of crushing blow. 
It doesn't have the life leech of the reaper's toll, but then again a good
helmet will nullify that problem anyway. If you can afford it, go with it.

\Obedience (5 Socket Polearms) Hel+Ko+Thul+Eth+Fal
/30% Chance To Cast Level 21 Enchant When You Kill An Enemy
\40% Faster Hit Recovery
/+370% Enhanced Damage
\-25% Target Defense
/Adds 3-14 Cold Damage 3 Second Duration
\-25% To Enemy Fire Resistance
/40% Chance of Crushing Blow
\+200-300 Defense
/+10 To Strength
\+10 To Dexterity
/All Resistances +20-30
\Requirements -20% 

Another solid runeword for any mercenary. Lots of damage, crushing blow,
+stats, +resists, even a -20% requirement for the merc to use it in a Cryptic
Axe earlier than he normally would be able to. Then there's a chance of casting
enchant on himself to boost his damage and attack rating to make him even more
The one thing that this weapon does not do is to help you to kill faster, either
from decrepify or conviction. However, he's still really powerful on his own.
In addition, the runes are fairly easy to get so you can make it early.

Armor for a mercenary is actually fairly similar to armor for your assassin.
His best option is fortitude- make it in ethereal armor to give him an even
better defense boost, and fortitude provides (as you well know) the best bonuses
for a melee class. 
Another great armor is treachery- the fade bonus adds a bunch of resists to
your merc's already-awesome resistances, while venom adds a nice touch to his
damage, too.

A helmet tends to serve on purpose for a mercenary: providing life leech. To
that end, we have several helmets for you to consider.

\Andariel's Visage (unique demonhead)
/Required Level: 83
\Required Strength: 102
/+100-150% Enhanced Defense
\+2 To All Skills
/20% Increased Attack Speed
\8-10% Life Stolen Per Hit
/+25-30 To Strength
\+10% To Maximum Poison Resist
/Fire Resist -30%
\Poison Resist +70%
/15% Chance To Cast Level 15 Poison Nova When Struck
\Level 3 Venom (20 charges)

This is the most popular helmet, mostly because it provides both life leech and
a large strength bonus to help to equip the weapon you're using. However, it
drops fire resist quite a bit, as well as requiring quite a high level to equip
it. You won't need to worry about this helm until VERY late in the game.

\Tal Rasha's Horadric Crest (set death mask)
/Required Level: 66
\Required Strength: 55
/10% Life Stolen Per Hit
\10% Mana Stolen Per Hit
/All Resistances +15
\+45 Defense
/+30 To Mana
\+60 To Life

Despite the fact that this is technically meant for sorceresses, it's a really
good mercenary helmet. Life leech, good life bonus and a nice resistance boost.
One of the really nice things about it is the consistently good life leech-
many helmets provide varying degrees of life leech, and it's nice to get one
with some consistency.

\Crown of Thieves (unique grand crown)
/Required Level: 49
\Required Strength: 103
/+160-200% Enhanced Defense
\9-12% Life Stolen Per Hit
/Fire Resist +33%
\+35 To Mana
/+50 To Life
\+25 To Dexterity
/80-100% Extra Gold From Monsters

The Crown of Thieves is another great life-stealing helmet, with up to 12%
stolen! Plus there's a life bonus and a nice dexterity bonus.
Typically people ignore this in favor of the Vampire Gaze or Andariel's Visage,
but I'm not quite sure why it's never mentioned. The fact that it steals life
better than the other two is at least worth a mention.

\Vampire Gaze (unique grim helm)
/Required Level: 41
\Required Strength: 58
/+100% Enhanced Defense
\Adds 6-22 Cold Damage - 4 Second Duration
/15% Slower Stamina Drain
\6-8% Life Stolen Per Hit
/6-8% Mana Stolen Per Hit
\Damage Reduced By 15-20%
/Magic Damage Reduced By 10-15

Not the greatest life leech out there, but there's a huge damage reduction bonus
that will do very nice things for your mercenary's survivability. Kind of an
average helm beyond that, though. 

OK- I think it's safe to say that you know anything and everything that you need
to about how to create this monster, but I haven't said a word about how to USE
it. So let's begin!

Before entering battle, do your prebuffing: cast shadow warrior and choose your
aura, cast venom, and cast Battle Orders/Enchant (if you have it).
If you come across a group of archers/mages, cast cloak of shadows before
you start the fight to make them easier to handle.

You have three attacks that you'll probably use: Dragon Talon, Death Sentry and
Lightning Sentry. Each has its own use.

A kicking hybrid will start with Dtalon. Use it to quickly level a couple of
your opponents. After that, set up two or three death sentries and let the 
damage flow! The sentries will blow up your corpses, and suddenly all of your
enemies will either be almost dead or completely dead. If some of your opponents
die, the death sentry will pop THEIR corpse, and the chain reaction of Corpse
Explosions will wipe out the entire group.
In the mean time, use mind blast to keep enemies stunned so that the sentries
can go to work.

A trap hybrid will do things differently. To start, you'll lay down all of your
lightning sentries and get that going, and THEN you'll go in and kick enemies if
the lightning sentries don't seem to be working. Once enemies die, go back to
the death sentry approach and blow stuff up.

Against bosses, drop all your lightning sentries and lay in with the Dtalon-
regardless of your setup, you'll take them down in no time.

1.0 (11/05)-First edition! Should've done this ages ago... glad to be done!

2.0 (1/06)- The Shadow Master sucks; I had to update the entire guide just so 
            I could make this point clear. So many emails...

2.01 (6/07)- Housekeeping

3.00 (9/10)- After how many years... the build was gutted and completely redone.
             Hardly anything remains the same from last time.

The Arreat Summit ( Best website on the 
    net for Diablo 2; I owe them a lot of information.

GameFAQs and CjayC- My favorite gaming website, it's a pleasure to write here.

Copyright 2005-2010 © Sean D'Hoostelaere

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